Wed, Apr 18, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Ma invites Swazi king to visit Taiwan this year

Staff writer, with CNA, MBABANE

King Mswati III, right, presents President Ma Ying-jeou with a leopard head on Monday during Ma’s state visit to Swaziland.

Photo: CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Monday invited King Mswati III of Swaziland to visit Taiwan this year a day before leaving the landlocked southern African country.

At a state banquet given in his honor on Monday night, Ma invited the king to visit Taiwan again, “so that we’ll have another happy chat and see how our health has progressed during the months we have not seen each other.”

Ma, a regular jogger, has invited the king to join him for a run and some calisthenics since he arrived in Mbabane on Sunday.

The president said the two countries had established close ties after the king visited Taiwan 12 times, and he expressed his pleasure at having the chance to make a reciprocal visit. Ma also prepared a birthday cake and invited all to toast the king, who will celebrate his 44th birthday tomorrow.

The king made three wishes — for the two countries to maintain good relations, for the two countries to live in peace and for the dreams of the people of Taiwan and Swaziland to come true.

The king said the world was closely watching Ma’s contributions, “especially his efforts to engage in cross-strait dialogue, ease hostilities and promote peaceful exchanges with the mainland.”

Meanwhile, the president reiterated his recent theme that for cross-strait relations to function well, China could not marginalize Taiwan in the international community.

Ma said he has pushed to gain space for Taiwan in the international community over the past four years with some success, even if the opening has not been as wide as he had hoped.

Responding to questions on diplomatic allies developing relations with China, Ma said the country’s stance was clear — Taiwan will not oppose allies’ trade ties with China as long as they do not establish diplomatic ones.

“They have to maintain relations with us. Otherwise, we’ll be unable to provide further assistance,” Ma said.

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