The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday confirmed that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will travel to Paraguay and the Dominican Republic on Aug. 15 and Aug. 16 respectively to attend the countries’ presidential inaugurations.
In contrast with trips undertaken by former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Ma will make use of commercial flights rather than special charter flights.
This will be Ma’s first overseas trip since taking office on May 20.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) said twice that, “on principle,” Ma will most likely transit through Los Angeles on the way to Latin America and will make a stopover in San Francisco on his way back to Taiwan.
Ma will leave Taiwan on Aug. 12 and return on Aug. 19. He will spend the night of Aug. 13 in Los Angeles before departing to Paraguay the next day and arriving at Asuncion late in the evening, Ou said.
Ma will attend the inauguration of the Paraguayan president on Aug. 15, then leave for Santo Domingo later that evening to attend the presidential inauguration on Aug. 16.
He will leave Santo Domingo the next day, departing for San Francisco and Taiwan, said Ou, adding that Ma was expected to touch down in Taiwan early on the morning of Aug. 19.
Ou said first lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) would not accompany her husband on the trip.
American Institute in Taiwan Spokesman Lawrence Walker told the Taipei Times yesterday that the institute had not received any official notification of the details of Ma’s US itinerary.
He said that Washington would abide by its “one China” policy, under which all visits by senior Taiwanese officials to the US are reviewed on a case by case basis according to the principles of “safety, comfort, convenience and dignity.”
Paraguayan president-elect Fernando Lugo has threatened to establish relations with Beijing once he takes the office. Rumor has it that he demanded a US$71 million financial package from Taiwan to secure ties with Taipei.
Ministry spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) said the ministry was keeping a close watch on Taiwan-Paraguay relations, but added that the decisive factor was whether Beijing was willing to risk its warming ties with Taipei in exchange for having Paraguay as an ally.