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St. Lucia opens embassy in Taiwan; first in Asia (update)

2015/06/04 20:47:28

Taipei, June 4 (CNA) St. Lucia opened an embassy in Taiwan Thursday, the Caribbean country's first in Asia, in an effort to strengthen bilateral ties.

The inauguration ceremony was presided over by St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, who is on a visit to Taiwan this week.

The ceremony was also attended by St. Lucia's Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation Alva Baptiste; Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations Menissa Rambally; and other St. Lucian officials.

Also present were Taiwan's Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂), Taiwan's ambassador to St. Lucia James Chang (章計平) and other Taiwanese foreign affairs officials.

"We've decided to strengthen our bilateral relations," Baptiste said at a reception marking the opening of the embassy. Having a presence in Taiwan will help advance bilateral ties. he added.

The embassy will be tasked with promoting foreign investment in St. Lucia, Baptiste said.

The St. Lucian government is in the process of appointing an ambassador, who will arrive in Taiwan "soon," Baptiste said, but he did not disclose a name.

Baptiste lauded Taiwan as "a model of economic development for small states," saying it has the experience of engaging in a technological revolution that has enhanced its economic development and the welfare of its people.

Speaking at the reception, Lin said Taiwan welcomed the establishment of the St. Lucian embassy.

"The opening of an embassy of St. Lucia in the ROC marks a new milestone in the cordial and cooperative relations between our two countries," Lin said, adding that it will help cement bilateral ties in the future and create more opportunities for exchanges and cooperation.

Noting that the new embassy is St. Lucia's first such mission in Asia, he said Taiwan can serve as a gateway for the Caribbean country to the rest of the region.

Lin also expressed gratitude for St. Lucia's support of Taiwan's efforts to gain meaningful participation in specialized agencies of the United Nations.

The Republic of China and St. Lucia have maintained close cooperation in the areas of public health, education, infrastructure and culture since the two countries resumed diplomatic relations in 2007 following a 10-year hiatus.

The two sides first established diplomatic ties in 1984, but St. Lucia switched recognition to the People's Republic of China in 1997.

It is the first time St. Lucia has established an embassy in Taiwan.

Of Taiwan's 22 diplomatic allies, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is now the only one not to have set up an embassy here.

(By Elaine Hou)