Guatemalan president arrives for Taiwan visit

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Jun 20, 2007 - Page 3

Guatemalan President Oscar Berger arrived in Taipei yesterday on a four-day state visit at the invitation of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Since Costa Rica severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan earlier this month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been on guard against the so-called "domino effect" among its other Central American allies.

The ministry said that Berger, by accepting Chen's invitation, had demonstrated his support for Taiwan.

Chen will preside over a formal ceremony with full military honors to welcome Berger in front of the Presidential Office at 9:30pm today.

He will also hold a meeting with Berger after the ceremony.

Chen will then hold a state dinner for the visiting president and his wife in Kaohsiung.

Berger's trip marks the second time that he has visited Taiwan since the start of his presidential term in 2004.

In addition to the president's secretary, the minister of transportation and other high-ranking officials, several members of the Guatemalan press are accompanying Berger on his trip.

The delegation is scheduled to visit Formosa Petrochemical Corp's (台塑石化) naphtha cracker plant in Mailiao (麥寮), Yunlin County, and take the High Speed Rail to Kaohsiung. Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團) founder Wang Yung-ching (王永慶) will also hold a banquet for Berger.

During Berger's visit, Taiwan and Guatemala will sign an agreement to facilitate agricultural interaction, a ministry statement said.

Before becoming president in 2004, Berger, 61, served as mayor of Guatemala City from 1991 to 1999.

Berger's first visit to Taiwan was in 1998 in his capacity as mayor.

He then attended a Democratic Pacific Union meeting, this time as president, in Taipei in 2005.