President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) expressed hope that relations between the Republic of China (ROC) and Sao Tome and Principe will reach a new high this year through close cooperation.
“The ROC government has been working very actively and seriously with the private sector to try to push ties between the two countries to a new level,” Ma said on Friday while addressing a state dinner hosted in his honor by Sao Tomean President Manuel Pinto da Costa.
Ma said that over the past 17 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations, they have launched various cooperation projects with fruitful results.
Bilateral cooperation will continue to expand this year, reaching areas, such as culture and education, he said.
Ma arrived in Sao Tome and Principe earlier on Friday on the first leg of his three-nation diplomatic tour.
After their talks at the Presidential Palace, Ma and Pinto da Costa jointly held a press conference, in which Ma praised the results of joint efforts between the two countries to fight malaria in Sao Tome.
Thanks to the malaria control and prevention programs carried out between 2003 and 2006 by Taiwanese expert Lien Jih-ching (連日清), the prevalence of malaria in the African country has dropped from 40 percent to 4 percent, Ma said.
Ma also said that the two countries would establish a joint commission in March to handle all matters of cooperation between the two countries.
Proposed cooperation, such as the construction of a hospital and the second state-run high school in Sao Tome, can be discussed and dealt with by the commission, Ma added.
Asked in what fields will the two countries strengthen their cooperation, Pinto da Costa said that currently there are no concrete projects. He added that he wishes cooperation to be possible in every field.
Pinto da Costa also said he expects concrete programs will be formed in the planned joint commission.
This is Ma’s first visit to the African ally during his more than five years in office.