Wed, Jun 10, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Ma plans to visit South Pacific allies

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is scheduled to make his fourth trip abroad since entering office in May last year to attend a fall leadership summit between Taiwan and its South Pacific allies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

The summit will take place sometime between October and November.

This year’s meeting will be held in the Solomon Islands, where Ma visited once in 1997 when he was a professor at National Taiwan University, said Lee Tsung-fen (李宗芬), deputy director of the Department of East Asian Affairs.

All heads of state of Taiwan’s six allies in the region — Nauru, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Palau — are expected to attend the meeting, she said.

The main focus of this year’s meeting will be on countering the current economic contraction, climate change and how to strengthen the fisheries industry. Taiwan will also seek to forge partnerships with the allies on several long-term joint ventures, Lee said.

Lee said Ma developed a ­fondness for the Pacific region during his previous visit to the Solomon Islands when he saw a handful of children at a market selling betel nuts and watermelons while wearing shirts donated by the people of Taiwan.

If possible, the ministry will arrange for the president to visit one or two more allies during the visit, MOFA said.

This would be Ma’s fourth overseas trip as president. He is expected to go to Latin America for the third time later this month to attend the inauguration of Panamanian president-elect Ricardo Martinelli.

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