Mon, Jun 25, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan considers writing off debts owed by Nicaragua

DPA , TAIPEI

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday conceded that it is considering writing off some of Nicaragua's debts, but denied speculation that Nicaragua made the demand in exchange for keeping diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

"We are considering it from the humanitarian point of view, but it has not been decided yet. It is international consensus to help needy countries," Foreign Ministry Spokesman David Wang (王建業) told reporters.

Wang was responding to a Chinese-language newspaper report said Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Samuel Santos had mentioned the request to reporters on Friday after conferring a medal on the nation's ambassador to Nicaragua, Hung Ming-ta (洪明達).

Nicaragua wants Taiwan to write off the debts in exchange for Managua's maintaining ties with Taiwan, the China Times said.

The newspaper said that Nicaragua owes Taiwan US$160 million, and that the total debt would be higher if Taipei's loans to Nicaragua extended through the Central American Integration System were also taken into account.

On Thursday, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said that his government was waiting for Taiwan's decision regarding Managua's request for electricity-generation equipment.

The China Times quoted Ortega as saying there would be no change in bilateral ties if the equipment is delivered and put into operation in October, in an apparent allusion to Nicaragua's conditions for continued diplomatic recognition of the nation.

Since Costa Rica switched recognition from Taiwan to China on June 1, reports have speculated that Nicaragua also plans to break ties with Taiwan and recognize China.

But Santos has denied the reports, saying that his country treasured its friendship with Taiwan.

Nicaragua recognized Beijing in 1985 after Ortega's first election. However, former president Violeta Chamorro broke with Beijing and re-established ties with Taiwan after defeating Ortega in 1990.

Before winning the most recent presidential election, Ortega had said that if he won, he would switch recognition from Taiwan to China to meet the needs of the Nicaraguan business sector.

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