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Foreign minister visits Solomon Islands to promote bilateral ties

2017/06/23 22:43:40

David Lee (李大維, right; photo courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Taipei, June 23 (CNA) Taiwan's Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維) visited the Solomon Islands this week in an effort to strengthen diplomatic relations with the South Pacific island country and explore the possibility for new cooperation in the future, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Friday.

During the visit from Tuesday to Friday, Lee met with Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare; Ajilon Nasiu, speaker of the Solomon Islands parliament; Milner Tozaka, foreign minister of the Solomon Islands; and other government officials, the ministry's statement said.

They discussed strengthening of bilateral relations and cooperative projects in the future, it said.

During his meeting with Lee, Sogavare reaffirmed the firm relations between the two countries and stressed that his country will continue to voice support for Taiwan in the international community, the ministry said.

Lee also pledged that Taiwan will continue cooperation to help cultivate talent for the Solomon Islands, according to the statement.

The Solomon Islands is an important diplomatic ally for Taiwan in the South Pacific, the ministry said. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1983, the countries have maintained solid ties, evidenced by frequent bilateral visits by high-level officials and close cooperation, it added.

The Solomon Islands has also expressed firm support for Taiwan's international participation, including in the International Civil Aviation Organization, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the ministry said.

Lee's visit to the Solomon Islands came after Taiwan recently lost another diplomatic ally, Panama, amid strained relations with China.

Panama cut formal ties with Taiwan and established diplomatic ties with China on June 13.

It was the second country to switch its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016, the first being African country Sao Tome and Principe, which recognized Beijing in December 2016.

(By Elaine Hou)