Sat, May 10, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Papuan minister says he met middleman

AP , PORT MORESBY

A Papua New Guinean government minister has reportedly admitted meeting a key figure in a failed bid to lure the South Pacific country to officially recognize Taiwan.

The Post-Courier newspaper on Friday reported that Papuan Minister for National Planning Paul Tiensten said he met with one of two Taiwanese middlemen involved in the failed 2006 attempt to establish ties with Papua New Guinea.

Revelations last week that Taiwan lost US$30 million in a failed 2006 attempt to establish ties with Papua New Guinea have thrown President Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) government into scandal. One of the middlemen, Ching Chi-ju (金紀玖), has disappeared, allegedly along with the money.

The Post-Courier cited Tiensten as saying he met the Taiwanese envoy in 2006 when he was the minister for trade and industry.

Tiensten said the meeting was intended to strengthen Papua New Guinea’s trade relationship with Taiwan, and he had no knowledge of the diplomatic switch plan, the newspaper reported.

The paper did not name the envoy.

Timothy Bonga, another Papua New Guinean lawmaker and head of the national water company, was reportedly also at the meeting and was quoted by the paper as saying the trip to Taiwan did not include discussions on diplomatic recognition.

“My trip to Taiwan was to look at water plant matters, on how we could improve the city sewerage and water bottling matters,” Bonga was quoted as saying.

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