Fri, Aug 24, 2007 - Page 3 News List

St. Lucia says it supports UN bid

THE BUINESS OF DIPLOMACY President Chen Shui-bian was yesterday scheduled to attend a summit meeting with the nation's Central American Allies in Honduras

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN TEGUCIGALPA

President Chen Shui-bian, right, shakes hands with Ricardo Alvarez, mayor of the Honduran capitol of Tegucigalpa, after Chen was decorated with the Gran Cruz Extraordinaria con Placa de Oro in Tegucigalpa on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AFP

St. Lucia, the nation's diplomatic ally in the Caribbean, said on Wednesday it would support Taiwan's UN bid in next month's General Assembly meeting.

Presidential Office spokesman David Lee (李南陽) said St. Lucian Acting Prime Minister Stephenson King told President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) over the phone on Wednesday afternoon that he would lead a delegation to the UN to support the bid.

Lee said Chen called King to express concern over the losses caused by Hurricane Dean.

Chen also invited King to visit Taiwan, but King said he would not be able to do so until early next year. He will, however, send his deputy to visit Tasiwan next month to ink a cooperative agreement.

King assumed the post of acting prime minister in May after Prime Minister John Compton was hospitalized in April. The 82-year-old had been hospitalized after suffering a series of mini-strokes and was unable to carry out his duties.

Some in Taiwan are concerned that if St. Lucia decides that an election is necessary it could lead to a worst-case scenario in which St. Lucia restores diplomatic ties with Beijing.

St. Lucia did not attend yesterday's summit in Honduras where Chen is scheduled to meet leaders of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America.

Taiwan has 12 diplomatic allies in Central and Southern America. They are Belize, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and Grenadines and St. Lucia.

Chen said Panamanian President Martin Torrijos Espino told him over the telephone on Wednesday afternoon that he would not attend the summit because he has a national strike to deal with. Second Vice President Ruben Arosemena Valdes arrived in Honduras to attend the event on his behalf.

Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic will also send their vice presidents to the meeting, while the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras and the prime minister of Belize will attend the event.

Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), who accompanied President Chen on the trip, warned of Beijing's aggressive efforts to pursue "energy and trade diplomacy" in Central America.

In a dinner with Taiwanese businesspeople based in Central America, President Chen lamented the difficulties Taiwan encounters in its attempt to expand diplomatic ties.

Diplomats of other countries may need to work a little to get a handsome reward, but Taiwanese diplomats have to work extra hard and sometimes don't get anything in return, he said.

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