Aid granted to Nicaragua
The government on Friday granted Nicaragua US$100,000, the first of a total of US$500,000 in aid expected over the next five years for social programs. "This shows the extraordinary relations of friendship, fraternity and solidarity that the Taiwanese government has with Nicaragua," Nicaraguan Vice President Jaime Morales Carazo said. He said the funds would be devoted to projects for children, homes for the elderly and women's detention centers, among others. Taiwanese Ambassador Wu Chin-mu (吳進木) said the money was in response to a request by the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Ortega asked for support for social programs to benefit those most vulnerable in the Central American country.
Military denies favors
The military yesterday denied that plans to tear down unused military buildings in Dadushan (大肚山), Taichung County, were meant to favor a local funeral company. Taichung Reserve Personnel Command Headquarters said that the buildings were being demolished to facilitate development of the land and contribute to the area's prosperity. As Dadushan is a well-known site for cemeteries, funeral home operators in the district are concerned that the military's decision to demolish the old buildings and return the property to its land owner, who also runs a funeral establishment, could give rise to intense competition in the region.
Office in Italy relocates
Taiwan's representative office in Italy has been relocated to Liege Street in the Parioli district of Rome as part of efforts to offer better service in a more spacious setting, office director Cheng Shin (鄭欣) said recently. The relocation to a three-story building was mainly because the last office was too small to accommodate staff, facilities and equipment, Cheng said. The Parioli district features scores of embassies. Part of the first floor of the new office building will be refurbished into a space dubbed "Taiwan Square," where Taiwanese students studying music or arts in Italy can display their academic and artistic achievements, Cheng said.
Mali bars Taiwanese NGO
A Taiwanese nongovernment organization (NGO) on Friday accused Mali of barring two of its members from a "Community of Democracies" summit in order to appease China, which was not invited to the meeting. Bo Tedards, a director of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, said the foundation's president, Lin Wen-cheng (林文程), and an adviser were denied visas by the Malian government, which has diplomatic relations with Beijing. Tedards said Mali's decision to exclude the foundation's representatives was damaging for the Community of Democracies and showed the diplomatic and economic power China was exerting on the world's poorest continent. "Either they [the Malians] wanted to please China or they were asked to exclude the representatives," he said. Tedards was able to travel to Bamako because he has a US passport. He said the Taiwanese nonprofit foundation had been able to attend previous Community of Democracy meetings in Chile, South Korea and Poland. A Malian foreign ministry official said his government had received no pressure from Beijing, but stood by its foreign policy principle of recognizing "one China" and not having diplomatic relations with Taiwan.