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African trip valuable for future ties: President

2012/04/16 17:39:06

Mbabane, Swaziland, April 15 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Sunday in Swaziland, his final stop on a 12-day trip to three Republic of China allies in Africa, that the trip has helped him gain a deeper understanding of the country's diplomatic allies.

"It's been a worthwhile trip," Ma said, adding that Taiwan has forged strong friendships with its diplomatic allies during the trip.

Ma also talked about his administration's promotion of "flexible diplomacy" since he took office in 2008, noting that a diplomatic truce with China has won recognition from the international community.

On the economic front, Taiwan should "conditionally provide assistance" to its diplomatic allies in Africa because most of their economies are still in a developing stage and need foreign aid, Ma said.

"We should try to make others feel we are an international asset rather than a liability" by contributing to international assistance programs in accordance with the norms set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Ma said.

Taiwan has donated 300 notebook computers worth US$300,000 to Swaziland, ROC Ambassador to Swaziland Peter Tsai announced that day.

It has also donated 1.6 million euros to Burkina Faso to help it address the problems caused by the influx of 40,000 refugees from Mali, and US$3 million to The Gambia to help deal with a food crisis there.

After taking part in a penalty-kick shootout in The Gambia with Gambian President Yahya Jammeh Saturday, Ma had another sports challenge with Swaziland's King Mswati III, Africa's sole remaining absolute monarch, after arriving there Sunday, in which Ma and the king both did 20 push-ups and 20 sit-ups.

The objective of the president's visit is to solidify diplomatic ties, deepen bilateral understanding and review various joint projects in the fields of medicine, agriculture, vocational education and infrastructure development, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ma is scheduled to return to Taiwan April 18.

(By Lee Shu-hua and Hanna Liu)
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