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Taiwan to pursue working holiday agreement with France after election

2012/04/23 18:18:59

Taipei, April 23 (CNA) Taiwan will continue to push for a working holiday program with France, regardless of the outcome of that country's presidential election, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

Taiwan will approach the members of the new French Cabinet to discuss the proposal after the election is settled, said James Lee, director-general of the ministry's Department of European Affairs.

Lee's remarks came shortly after France finished its first round of presidential voting, with early results showing that Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande had a lead over incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy. The two men will face a runoff vote on May 6.

Lee told reporters on the sidelines of a legislative session that Sarkozy's defeat in the first round reflected the French people's awareness of emerging economic problems, such as the country's soaring unemployment rate.

However, Lee said, a working holiday program with Taiwan should not affect France's employment market as the two sides could approve an equal number of openings for youth on a yearly basis.

Taiwan has been trying for years to reach a working holiday agreement with France, which has such arrangements with Canada, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and Germany.

Taiwan is among other countries, such as those in Central and South America, interested in making France a working holiday destination for young people.

French administrative officials had indicated that it would be better if Taiwan waited until after the election to raise the issue, Lee said, adding that France's foreign ministry is supportive of the idea.

(By Nancy Liu)