President hopes for continued development of ties with Seoul


TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Ma Ying-jeou expressed hope yesterday that relations between Taiwan and South Korea will continue to be cordial based on the existing solid friendship.

The president made the remarks when he received outgoing Oh Sang-sik, representative of the Korean Mission in Taipei, at the Presidential Office.

Ma cited trade figures to show the close relations between the two nations, saying that bilateral trade amounted to US$23 billion last year, with South Korea enjoying a trade surplus of more than US$7 billion.

The two countries are each other’s fifth largest trading partners, Ma added.

He noted that since Taiwan and South Korea resumed air links in 2004 after a hiatus of more than a decade, exchanges between the two countries have become even more close, with both countries offering visa-free privileges to each other’s citizens.

Taiwan severed diplomatic ties with South Korea in 1992 after the latter switched recognition to Beijing from Taipei.

People from each side paid a total of 680,000 visits to the other country last year, Ma went on.

He also noted that during Wu’s tenure, trade talks between Taipei and Seoul resumed after a disruption of more than a decade.

The president said that since his May 20 inauguration, he has dedicated himself to the improvement of cross-Taiwan Strait ties and that the thaw in cross-strait ties has also helped maintain regional peace and stability. Ma noted that more than 90 South Korean colleges and universities have cooperative relations with Taiwanese universities.

Oh, for his part, said he has enjoyed his stay in Taiwan and has made many good friends.