The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said it regretted comments by Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli that his country supports Japan in its claim to the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).
The ministry said it has registered its concern with its diplomatic ally.
According to media reports, Martinelli told a press conference following his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in Tokyo on Monday that Panama supports the claim of sovereignty made by Japan over the islets, known in Japan as the Senkakus.
Martinelli is in Japan for a four-day official visit that began on Sunday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed serious concern over Martinelli’s comments and said it wished Panama would respect the position of the Republic of China (ROC) government that the Diaoyutais are affiliated islands of Taiwan and part of the inherent territory of the ROC.
Ambassador to Panama Diego Chou (周麟) conveyed the message to Panamanian Acting Foreign Minister Francisco Alvarez De Soto at 3pm on Monday in Panama, the ministry said.
The uninhabited Diaoyutai Islands, which are also claimed by China, lie about 120 nautical miles (220km) northeast of Taipei.
The ministry said that the ROC embassy in Panama has communicated with the Panamanian government that the ROC has indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyutais and explained the initiative proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) that the countries which lay claim to the islands should deal with the dispute in a peaceful manner.
The ROC embassy in Panama and other overseas missions will enhance their efforts to communicate with their host countries over the matter, the ministry said.