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Taiwan continues efforts to maintain ties with Solomon Islands

2019/09/10 23:08:20

(Oliver Wu, second left)

Honiara, Sept. 10 (CNA) Taiwan's ambassador to the Solomon Islands has pledged all-out efforts to settle the challenges facing diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the South Pacific island-nation amid speculation of a possible diplomatic switch from Taiwan to China.

There have certainly been challenges facing Taipei-Honiara links, Republic of China (Taiwan) Ambassador to the Solomon Islands Oliver Liao (廖文哲) said in an interview with CNA Monday.

However, he stressed that the ROC Embassy will continue its efforts to maintain close ties with its ally.

With the backing of various sectors in the South Pacific country and the international community, "Taiwan is not alone," Liao said, after Reuters reported last week that the Solomon Islands intends to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan and align itself with Beijing.

The Solomon Islands has been assessing its relations with Taiwan since new Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare took office after a general election in April, according to the report.

However, Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele, who is currently on a visit to Taiwan, has said that the country cherishes its relations with Taiwan.

During the interview, Liao said that after Sogavare returned to power in April, he set up a task force to consider ties with Taiwan based on the needs of his country's national development.

It is undeniable that at present, Taiwan and the Solomon Islands have encountered challenges in their relations, Liao said.

Despite this, Solomon Islands' society has given a high level of support to Taiwan, Liao said, noting that about 80 percent to 90 percent of the people in the country are very supportive of Taiwan.

He reiterated that the embassy will put out all the stops and that he is cautiously optimistic about maintaining stable diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands.

Taiwan will examine all possible factors that can help it maintain diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands, including help from the South Pacific country's traditional diplomatic allies, Liao added.

They included the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, Liao went on, adding that solid Taiwan-Solomon Islands diplomatic ties are mutually beneficial to Taiwan and these like-minded countries.

The Solomon Islands achieved independence as a republic in 1978 and established diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1983.

Taiwan was the only country that did not close its embassy in Honiara when ethnic tensions began escalating in 1998, peaking with violent riots in 2000, according to Liao.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Evelyn Kao)
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