President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday embarked on his 11th overseas visit since coming to office in 2008, a trip that is to take him to the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Nicaragua for talks with heads of state including Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
On his way to the Caribbean, Ma plans to visit Harvard University, his alma mater, during a transit stop in Boston.
He is expected to give a speech at a university gathering, officials said.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
Before boarding a China Airlines charter flight at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday, Ma said he hopes to deepen bilateral cooperation with the nation’s allies during the trip.
While in the Dominican Republic, Ma is to deliver a speech to the nation’s Congress and hold talks with Dominican President Danilo Medina, officials said.
In Haiti, Ma and Haitian President Michel Martelly are to jointly inaugurate a new office building constructed for the nation’s Supreme Court.
The project, built with help from Taiwan, took two years to finish and is the first among similar construction projects to have been completed after Haiti was devastated by an earthquake in 2010.
In 2013, Ma became the first president from Taiwan to set foot in the Caribbean nation since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1956.
While in Nicaragua, Ma is to meet with Ortega and visit Taiwanese businesses.
He is also expected to be presented with a key to the city during a visit to historical Granada.
Although the purpose of such visits is to bolster ties with Taiwan’s allies in the region, the president’s activities during transits in the US often attract as much — if not more — attention from Taiwanese media as his official itinerary.
In an interview last week, Ma spoke of the topics he might cover in his speech and a follow-up discussion at Harvard.
Cross-strait ties, domestic politics and issues concerning the South China Sea and the East Asian region are bound to come up during the discussion, since Taiwan is at the heart of these topics, said Ma, who received his degree from Harvard Law School in 1981.
The overnight transit is to be the first in Boston for a sitting president, although Ma visited Harvard nine years ago as mayor of Taipei and a presidential candidate.
Ma is due to return to Taiwan on Saturday after a stopover in Los Angeles.
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