Wed, Jan 08, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Ma to visit African ally during diplomatic tour

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is to embark on an eight-day diplomatic tour on Jan. 23, during which he will make his first visit during his current term to African ally Sao Tome and Principe and attend the inauguration of Honduran president-elect Juan Orlando Hernandez, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

Ma is to lead a delegation to Sao Tome and Principe — the only Taiwanese ally he has yet to visit during his term — and Burkina Faso, before heading to Honduras for Hernandez’s inaugural ceremony on Jan. 27.

The president is scheduled to make a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany, en route to Africa and stay overnight in Los Angeles, California, on the return leg of the journey.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Ko (柯森耀) said the trip was aimed at enhancing diplomatic ties with the nation’s allies, adding that the president will use the occasion to inspect the cooperation projects initiated between Taiwan and the allied nations.

The total flight time for the trip will be more than 60 hours, with the president and the delegation set to return to Taiwan on Jan. 30.

Ma did not visit Sao Tome and Principe during his previous diplomatic trip to Africa in 2012 because Sao Tomean President Manuel Pinto da Costa was unable to meet him at the time.

The trip is meant to help Ma achieve his goal of visiting all of Taiwan’s allies by the end of his second term in 2016 and follows a diplomatic setback last year, when Gambia ended formal ties.

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