Thu, Oct 11, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Ministry denies report of aid package for Paraguay

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Acting Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Phoebe Yeh (葉非比) yesterday denied reports that Taiwan had agreed to offer a US$71 million grant to Paraguay as part of a social development aid package.

Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos told Paraguay's national radio in a telephone interview after meeting with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) that Taiwan would extend the non-returnable credit to Paraguay, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported on Tuesday.

CNA report quoted Paraguayan newspaper ABC as saying that the donation would be made in monthly installments of US$4 million over 18 months.

Duarte, one of the foreign dignitaries attending Double Ten National Day celebrations, arrived in Taipei on Sunday.

Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA) reported on Monday that Duarte had said last Friday, before leaving for Taipei, that he would seek to have Taiwan either write off US$71 million in debt or present Paraguay with aid to promote social development.

Duarte said that the US$71 million was part of a loan that had been obtained from Taiwan by former Paraguayan president Luis Gonzales Macchi, who was sentenced to six years in jail on June 6 last year for attempting to embezzle US$16 million in public funds, the DPA report said.

Yeh said yesterday that Duarte had merely been expressing his "expectations."

The government is still communicating with the Paraguayan leader about the matter, Yeh told reporters.

"The two governments are still in the negotiation stage as far as the amount and details are concerned. No conclusion has been reached," Yeh said.

The social development projects Duarte has proposed include the construction of public housing, improving sanitation and enhancing social welfare, she said.

"These are all meaningful projects. We will do our best, but we can't make commitments to things beyond our capabilities," Yeh said.

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