Haitian president visit to help forge high-level exchanges: MOFA

Haiti's President Jovenel Moise, center, walks with first lady Martine Moise during Flag Day celebrations in Arcahaie, Haiti, Friday, May 18, 2018. Haitians celebrate the 215th anniversary of the creation of their national flag by Catherine Flon, who sewed together the Haitian flag from the French tricolor. ( AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Taipei, May 28 (CNA) Haitian President Jovenel Moise’s visit to Taiwan will help strengthen the existing close ties between Taiwan and the Caribbean nation and high-level exchanges between government officials, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Monday.

Besides providing technical assistance to our allies, the strengthening of contact between high-level officials is just as important, Wu told opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers during a hearing at the Legislature.

The Haitian president, who arrived in Taiwan early Monday morning, made his first visit to Taiwan since taking office in early 2017.

The visit comes with a certain level of intrigue, given that China has poached two of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the past month — the Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso — and some are wondering if Haiti may be next.

According to the Miami Herald, Taiwan granted Haiti a US$150 million low-interest loan for its rural power grids shortly after the Dominican Republic cut ties at the beginning of May, a loan Taiwan has not publicly confirmed.

Even with that, however, Moise’s chief-of-staff Wilson Laleau told the Miami Herald late last week that Haiti is open-minded to other partnerships.

“Taiwan is a longtime friend…[but] Haiti is looking for where its interests lie,” Laleau was quoted as saying. “We are looking for alliances, partners who want to come and invest with us.”

Taiwan wants to maintain its alliances, but Wu has insisted that the country cannot match China dollar for dollar, and when opposition KMT lawmaker Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣) asked Wu if Moise’s arrival meant more assistance for his country, Wu responded “No.”

He stressed that President Moise has been invited to Taiwan to help promote high-level interaction and friendship between the two governments.

Moise is leading a 30-member delegation that includes businesspeople, lawmakers and government officials on a five-day visit.

The group will visit several government agencies and state-run companies such as Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) and the Mingtan Power Plant in Nantou, see a science park in Taichung, and attend a forum on investment in Haiti, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Taiwan and Haiti established diplomatic ties in 1956 and have since deepened bilateral relations, which has resulted in cooperation on infrastructure development, agriculture and forestry development, energy, education, environmental protection, medical care, and public health, the Foreign Ministry said.

(By Ku Chuan and Ko Lin)