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Deputy prime minister of St. Lucia to attend presidential inauguration

2012/05/03 12:41:08

Taipei, May 3 (CNA) St. Lucia's deputy prime minister will attend President Ma Ying-jeou's inauguration to his second term later this month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday, amid rumors that the Caribbean state is planning to sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

"The visit demonstrates the good relations Taiwan has with St. Lucia," said Jaime Wu, director-general of the ministry's Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, in a routine press conference.

The remark came amid speculation that the new St. Lucia government, which took office after a general election late last November, might switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.

Kenny Anthony, the island nation's new prime minister, had previously accused Republic of China Ambassador Tom Chou of influencing St. Lucia's election by supporting the then-ruling United Workers Party (UWP), and said he would review the diplomatic relations with Taiwan after taking power.

Taiwan-St. Lucia relations "should not be mixed up with Anthony's opinion of Chou," the director-general said, adding that " diplomatic relations remain normal and friendly."

So far, about 50 guests from Central and South America, including high-ranking politicians, have been invited to attend Ma's May 20 inauguration, he said.

St. Lucia first established diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1984 but switched recognition to China in 1997. In 2007, after 10 years of relations with Beijing, the new UWP government renewed ties with Taipei.

St. Lucia is one of Taiwan's 23 diplomatic allies around the world.

(By Nancy Liu)