President Ma speaks at St. Lucia parliament

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CNA

CASTRIES, St. Lucia — Visiting Republic of China President Ma Ying-jeou spoke on the pursuit of peace and stability in a speech he delivered Friday at the parliament of St. Lucia. Ma, who arrived in Castries from Paraguay late Thursday after attending the inauguration of new Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, said that since he took office in 2008, he has worked on improving cross-Taiwan Strait relations, which has greatly eased bilateral tension.

On the other hand, he has adopted a flexible diplomatic policy and has achieved tangible results in strengthening Taiwan’s relations with other countries.

Ma is the first R.O.C. head of state invited to speak at the parliament. The last national leader to speak there was former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Ma pledged to share the experience of Taiwan’s development with St. Lucia and to work on promoting the Caribbean nation’s infrastructure and various cooperation projects, including the prevention of black sigatoka, a leaf spot disease that affects bananas.

He noted that an easing of cross-strait tension and the promotion of regional stability highlights the role of the R.O.C. as a peacemaker.

“The R.O.C. will continue to play the roles of a peacemaker, a provider of humanistic assistance, a promoter of cultural exchanges, a creator of new technology and business opportunities and the trailblazer of Chinese culture,” Ma said.

The president also lauded St. Lucia’s booming tourism, saying that although it has a population of only around 160,000, it attracts over 900,000 visitors annually.

He attributed the great success to its tantalizing landscape and its friendly and hospitable people.

The president also invited Prime Minister Kenny Davis Anthony to visit Taiwan to explore cooperation in a bid to help solve the jobless problem of the country’s youth and further upgrade bilateral friendship and cooperation.

The St. Lucia parliament also presented to Ma resolutions on supporting the ROC’s participation in two international organizations — the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — which the parliament passed recently in a bid to show welcome to Ma’s visit and its support of the R.O.C.

Ma earlier signed a joint communique with Antony.

He later visited a farm run by a Taiwanese mission, where a Taiwanese volunteer, Teng Ya-lan, told Ma that she started a weight control class in April for local people to help reduce the problem of chronic disease.

As local people don’t usually have scales at home, Ma suggested providing scales for public places to help local people with their weight control.

Ma is currently on a five-nation diplomatic tour that began in Haiti after a transit stop in New York.

Following his St. Lucia visit, he will travel to two other Caribbean allies — Saint Christopher and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.