The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday declined to comment on a possible meeting between exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and former Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Mark Chen (陳唐山), who was assigned by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to attend an international meeting of political, religious and cultural figures in the Czech Republic.
“Many distinguished guests were invited to attend this year’s Forum 2000 in Prague, that runs from Sunday through [today], during which many side events are convened to discuss different issues and social activities are held,” ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) told a routine news conference in Taipei.
During the course of the forum, Wang said invited guests are expected to participate in “natural interactions,” which the ministry would struggle to keep tabs on from Taipei.
Wang was responding to media requests for comment on a story by the Chinese-language online news outlet Storm Media,which said that Chen, who serves as president of the think tank Prospect Foundation, is to meet with the Dalai Lama, who is scheduled to give a speech, entitled “Secular Ethics,” at the forum today.
Chen served as minister of foreign affairs during former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) presidency and was a Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker between February 2012 and January.
The forum comes after New Power Party Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) early last month visited the Dalai Lama in India and invited him to come to Taiwan and deliver a speech at the legislature, which Lim said the Buddhist monk gladly accepted.
Wang said Forum 2000 was initiated in 1996 by then-Czech president Vaclav Havel and that Taiwan has been invited to participate since 1998.
Wang declined to speculate on the reasons Tsai designated Mark Chen to attend the annual forum, saying it is within the president’s power to appoint her own representative.
That he is representing Taiwan’s first popularly elected female head of state, Mark Chen is scheduled to give a speech at the forum, entitled “Women as Agents of Social Change,” Wang said.
“He plans to further introduce to participants our nation’s development, as well as the endeavors and achievements we have made in pushing for gender equality,” Wang said.
When reached for comment, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said it is natural for participants to interact with each other and exchange opinions.
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