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Minister squashes rumor about souring diplomatic ties

2012/05/07 17:27:44

Taipei, May 7 (CNA) Taiwan's diplomatic relations remain stable and there is no chance that any ties will be severed, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Tung Kuo-yu stressed Monday, following recent rumors that ties with two allies have turned sour.

"There has absolutely been no change to the Republic of China's relations with foreign friends. Taiwan's ties, whether with Panama or Saint Lucia, are not faced with the problem of severance," Tung said in response to a question by opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei at a legislative committee hearing.

If the diplomatic relations with the two countries are cut, he will be willing to step down, Tung underlined at the hearing of the the Legislative Foreign and National Defense Committee.

Asked why Taiwan's new ambassador to Panama, Diego Chou, had so far not been able to visit Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli to deliver his letters of credence since assuming the overseas post in January, Tung said it was because Martinelli had been very busy in the past months.

He expected the president will meet a group of foreign ambassadors in the next few days to accept their letters of credence, he said, implying Chou will be one of them.

Meanwhile, DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim asked the ranking official responsible for foreign affairs about whether the World Health Organization (WHO) had China's consent before sending its invitation to Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta for the 65th World Health Assembly slated for May 21-26 in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to a controversial memorandum of understanding (MOU) between China and the WHO, the health organization needs to gain China's consent if it wants to invite Taiwan to attend its general assembly.

In response to Hsiao, Tung said he did not even remember there was such a procedure.

Chiu received the invitation directly from WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, he said, noting it has nothing to do with the MOU.

He also said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has never stopped protesting against the document, which, signed in 2005, specifies Taiwan as a province of China.

(By Emmanuelle Tzeng and Elizabeth Hsu)