Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - Page 3 News List

MOFA stays mum on delegation’s trip to South Korea

REACHING OUT:On the delegation was Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who expressed hopes that Taiwan and South Korea could enhance relations

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday provided scant details about the attendance of a Taiwanese delegation at South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s inauguration in Seoul, even after the delegation made an appearance at the ceremony.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) led a group of five lawmakers from across party lines to attend the inauguration, including the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Lin Te-fu (林德福) and Lo Ming-tsai (羅明才), the Democratic Progressive Party’s Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), the People First Party’s Thomas Lee (李桐豪) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union’s Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉).

Ministry spokesperson Steve Hsia (夏季昌) was tight-lipped about the matter, providing no information except that the invitation to Wang was extended by friendship groups between the legislature and its counterpart in Seoul.

According to a report from Seoul by the Central News Agency (CNA), after the inauguration, Wang and the delegation visited the South Korean parliament and they were received by Vice Speaker of the South Korean National Assembly Lee Byung-suk.

The report quoted Wang as saying that he wished his visit could enhance cooperation between the two countries in stabilizing peace in East Asia. He also said he hoped the two countries could speed up negotiations over bilateral agreements in the fields of investment protection and judicial mutual assistance, and facilitate a dialogue on a free-trade agreement.

Five years ago, Wang was also invited to attend the inauguration of then South Korean president Lee Myung-bak, but he was forced to cancel his trip at the last minute due to pressure from China, then-minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) said at the time.

This time Wang made it to the ceremony, which is regarded as evidence of progress in the government’s efforts to promote flexible diplomacy.

The group, which arrived in Seoul the previous evening, was scheduled to return to Taiwan after meeting with representatives of Taiwan’s expatriate community later in the day and be back in time for the opening of the Legislative Yuan’s new session the following day.

In Taipei, sources from the National Security Bureau said Park’s inauguration as South Korea’s first female president was expected to help boost bilateral ties between Taiwan and the Northeast Asian country.

Park, who speaks Mandarin, has a long-term connection with Taiwan, the sources said, expressing confidence that she would bring her influence to bear upon efforts to promote closer ties between the two countries during her term.

Park was granted an honorary doctoral degree in 1987 by the Taipei-based Chinese Culture University, which forged sisterhood ties with Yeungnam University of South Korea in the 1950s.

She visited Taiwan in 2001 at the invitation of the government.

Park is the firstborn daughter of Park Chung-hee, who governed South Korea from 1961 to 1979.

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