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Foreign minister to visit Marshall Islands

2018/11/15 13:20:19

Joseph Wu (吳釗燮/CNA file photo)

Taipei, Nov. 15 (CNA) Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) will visit Taiwan's Pacific ally Marshall Islands Nov. 19 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Thursday.

Invited by his Marshall Islands counterpart John M. Silk, Wu is scheduled to lead a delegation to visit the country to celebrate the 20th anniversary that falls on Nov. 20. The visit is scheduled to conclude Nov. 21.

In addition to MOFA officials, the delegation will include representatives from Taipei Medical University Shuang Ho Hospital, the Cabinet-level Ocean Affairs Council, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council.

Wu will meet with Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine and her Cabinet and will also attend ceremonies that demonstrate the results of bilateral cooperation, said Baushuan Ger (葛葆萱), head of MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

The demonstration of these cooperation projects will feature a joint maritime rescue drill between Taiwan's CGA and its Marshall Islands counterpart. Wu will also host a ceremony to mark the initiation of a new medical care center and will sign a bilateral cooperation agreement in police affairs, according to Ger.

The upcoming trip comes at a sensitive moment as Heine narrowly survived a vote of no confidence Monday, which she alleged was orchestrated by Chinese-backed business interests intent on undermining the Pacific nation's sovereignty.

Asked to comment on the timing, Ger said the trip was arranged six months ago to coincide with the 20th anniversary of forming diplomatic relations and has nothing to do with solidifying ties with the ally after the no-confidence vote.

Ger would not comment on the internal affairs of the ally but said the ministry did notice that Beijing has attempted to affect Taipei's ties with all of its diplomatic allies.

"We will do our best to solidify relations with all of our diplomatic allies by offering aid projects that will truly help these allies' citizens," he said.

Meanwhile, Ger also announced that reciprocal visa-free entry between Taiwan and Marshall Islands citizens will take effect Nov. 19 as part of efforts to grant visa-free privileges to its allies to promote closer exchanges.

In accordance with the deal, Marshall Islands citizens will get visa-free stays of up to 90 days and vice versa.

Taiwan and the Marshall Islands established diplomatic relations in 1998.

(By Joseph Yeh)