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Foreign minister denies 'money diplomacy' for Panama

2012/07/24 22:57:38

Taipei, July 24 (CNA) Foreign Minister Timothy Yang rebutted media accusations Tuesday that the government increased its financial aid to Panama in exchange for diplomatic accreditation for Taiwan's new ambassador to the country, more than six months after the ambassador arrived in the Central American country to assume his post.

"There has been absolutely no upping of the ante in exchange for the Panamanian government's support," Yang said at a press conference earlier in the day. "How much the government will earmark for bilateral cooperation projects has already been decided upon and this amount has not been increased," he said.

"Increasing the aid fund is not what the current administration would do, and this is widely understood by the Panamanian government and the rest of the world, Yang said.

"The government has stopped using money as an incentive to gain the support of other countries," he went on.

Yang said that although he could not give details about bilateral relations, he guaranteed that the country's ties with Panama are being maintained, without compromising Taiwan's dignity.

Asked why Republic of China Ambassador Diego Chou had not been able until recently to deliver his letter of credence to Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli since being appointed to his post in January, Yang said there was some misunderstanding that resulted in the delay.

The misunderstanding arose from a meeting in January between himself and Panamanian Vice President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez, Martinelli's rival and head of an opposition party, who requested the meeting mainly to offer his congratulations on President Ma Ying-jeou's re-election that month, Yang said.

Suspicions of him meddling in Panama's internal politics were unfounded and were cleared up after much discussion and negotiation between the two sides, Yang added.

(By Emmanuelle Tzeng and Scully Hsiao)