Wed, Oct 03, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Chen not planning any transit stops on way to Marshalls

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will not make any transit stops during his trip to the Marshall Islands next week to attend a summit with leaders of the nation's diplomatic allies in the Pacific.

An official at the Presidential Office, who asked not to be identified, yesterday said that Chen would leave for Majuro on Oct. 11 and return on Oct. 14. The four-day journey will be straightforward as the main purpose of Chen's trip is to attend the summit.

The first summit was held in Palau in September last year, bringing Chen together with the heads of the nation's six Pacific island allies -- the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

The six island nations represent a quarter of the countries around the world that have diplomatic ties with Taiwan and have helped the nation in its campaign to win a UN seat and representation in other international organizations.

Kiribati and Nauru were the only two allies in the Pacific that did not speak in favor of Taiwan's UN membership bid during the UN General Assembly last month. However, they were among the country's 16 diplomatic allies who endorsed the campaign.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that five of the Pacific allies had confirmed that their presidents would attend the summit. Kiribati President Anote Tong would assign Vice President Teima Onorio to attend the event on his behalf.

As Chen has expressed hope that New Zealand would attend the event as an observer, the ministry said it was making efforts to make this possible.

Deputy Director of the ministry's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Yu Te-sheng (于德勝) said that the summit agenda includes discussions on the environment, global warming, fishing and sustainable development.

The summit will conclude with the signing of a joint communique to strengthen multi-level cooperation, he said.

The Presidential Office is scheduled to hold a press conference to offer more details about the trip on Friday.

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