Taiwan and the US are working closely with Palau, and will make sure other allies also perceive the “warmth” of the Taiwan-US partnership, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said yesterday.
Wu made the remarks at a news conference at the Grand Mayfull Hotel in Taipei before having lunch with Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr and his wife, Valerie Remengesau Whipps, US Ambassador to Palau John Hennessey-Niland and American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen.
Wu thanked the US for its help in making possible tomorrow’s launch of a Taiwan-Palau “travel bubble.”
The US since January has been assisting Palau’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by providing vaccines, while Taiwan has also offered medical supplies and other help to the Pacific nation, he said.
Taiwan and the US last week signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint coast guard working group, while Taiwan and Palau previously signed a pact to promote bilateral coast guard cooperation during President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) visit to the nation in March 2019, Wu said.
Other examples of trilateral cooperation include the first overseas workshop of the Global Cooperation and Training Framework — a Taiwan-US cooperation platform that has engaged increasing partners since its launch in 2015 — which was held in Palau in September 2019, he said.
Taiwan and the US in October 2019 also launched the Pacific Islands Dialogue, allowing Taiwan to maintain close interactions with its diplomatic allies in the Pacific, he added.
The dialogue was launched after the Solomon Islands and Kiribati switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing within a week in September 2019. Since then, the number of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the Pacific has remained at four.
“We want to make sure that all of our allies can perceive the warmth conveyed by Taiwan and the US,” Wu said, adding that relations between Taiwan, Palau and the US would only improve.
Hennessey-Niland said that he was glad to be able to join the Palauan delegation ahead of the “travel bubble,” which was the first of its kind in the Indo-Pacific region, and possibly the world.
“I know people often describe the US-Taiwan partnership as ‘Real Friends, Real Progress,’ and I think that description could aptly be applied to the cooperation between the United States, Taiwan and Palau as well,” he said.
The trilateral partnership also includes cooperation to confront shared threats, such as climate change and marine debris, as well as shared values, including preservation of indigenous cultures, and fostering sustainable and inclusive economic growth, Christensen said.
The US, Taiwan and Palau “share a strong commitment to democracy, to a free and open Indo-Pacific, and to advancing the peace and prosperity of the region,” the AIT said in a statement.
Separately, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Taiwan would donate two 7-tonne patrol vessels to Palau as part of the coast guard cooperation pact.
However, it has no plan to make the donation during the Palauan president’s visit, as some media have reported, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement.
Construction of the vessels is expected to be completed in July and the ministry would discuss their delivery with Palau at that time, the statement said.
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