Tue, Jun 26, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Marshall Islands president set to visit

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Marshall Islands President Kessai Note is scheduled to arrive in Taipei today for a five-day visit, his sixth in the past five years.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Note would meet President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) tomorrow, after which the rest of Note's trip will be private.

Note first visited Taiwan in May 2002, and then in May and December 2004. Note and his wife visited at Chen's invitation in April 2005 and November last year.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman David Wang (王建業) said that Note was expected to visit friends and possibly take part in some sports activities.

A source told the Taipei Times that Note would play golf with former presidential advisor Koo Kwan-min (辜寬敏) in Taipei and sign a contract with Ching Fu Shipbuilding in Kaohsiung. Koo has invested in the Marshal Islands' fishing industry.

As Chen is scheduled to visit the Marshall Islands in October, Wang said that Note was expected to discuss details of the upcoming Taiwan Pacific Allies Summit with Chen during their meeting.

Wang confirmed yesterday that Taiwan had promised to donate US$5 million to the Marshall Islands to build facilities for the summit to be held in the capital, Majuro, in October.

The facilities will be donated to the Marshall Islands following the summit, he said.

The first summit of Taiwanese allies was held in Palau in September last year, bringing Chen together with the heads of the six Pacific island states holding diplomatic ties with Taipei. They are the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

Wang declined to say what Taiwan's annual grants to the Marshall Islands amounted to, saying that the government wanted to keep the total secret from China.

During last year's Taiwanese allies summit, Chen said that it was unlikely that the nation's Pacific allies would switch their diplomatic alliance to China in the foreseeable future, and that his administration would carefully manage relations with them and other diplomatic partners.

He also said that Taiwan was different from China in terms of offering aid packages, because "we don't write blank checks. Instead, we offer practical and useful programs designed to solve their problems."

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