President Ma Ying-jeou departs for visit to Paraguay and Caribbean allies


CNA

TAIPEI–President Ma Ying-jeou departed yesterday for a 12-day diplomatic tour that will cover Paraguay, where he will attend the inauguration of the country’s new president, and Taiwan’s four allies in the Caribbean.

A delegation led by Ma boarded a China Airlines flight bound for the United States yesterday afternoon and is scheduled to make a transition stop in Anchorage, Alaska, before arriving in New York on Aug. 11. He will remain in the country until Aug. 13.

This will be Ma’s first transition stop in New York during an official visit to Taiwan’s allies.

The delegation is scheduled to attend the inaugural ceremony of President Horacio Cartes and Vice President Juan Afara in Paraguay on Aug. 15. After that, he will visit Saint Christopher and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Notably, Ma will become the first president of the Republic of China to deliver a speech at St. Lucia’s national congress. The last foreign political leader invited to address the congress was former South African President Nelson Mandela in 1998.

Prior to these trips, Ma will visit Haiti to understand the recovery process of the country following its devastation by a massive earthquake in 2010. This will be Ma’s first visit to Haiti since he became president in 2008.

Ma said his trip to Haiti holds special meaning because it marks the first visit by the president of the Republic of China after the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1956.

Since he took office five years ago, Ma went on, he has been working on improving Taiwan’s diplomatic ties with its allies, while easing its diplomatic struggle against China.

Taiwan’s relations with its 23 allies remains solid and has seen progress with non-diplomatic nations, such as the United States and Japan, and various European countries, Ma stated.

These strong ties are proven by Taiwan’s visa-free or visa-on-arrival agreements, granted by 133 countries across the globe, he noted.

In New York, during his tour, Ma will meet House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce and the committee’s ranking member Eliot Engel.

In addition, Ma will visit the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in New York, becoming the first president of the Republic of China to visit the association, which represents Chinese Americans living in the Greater New York metropolitan area. He will also host a dinner for more than 300 Taiwanese expatriates.