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Show celebrates Taiwan-U.S. environmental cooperation (update)

2013/06/21 17:06:23

Christopher Marut (right), director of the American Institute in Taiwan's Taipei office, Vice Foreign Minister Vanessa Shih (in pink dress), and Stephen Shen (left), head of Environmental Protection Administration.

Taipei, June 21 (CNA) An exhibition showcasing the environmental cooperation between Taiwan and the United States kicked off in Taipei on Friday to mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of an agreement on the partnership.

The exhibition, which will run until June 25 at the SPOT-Taipei Film House, chronicles the Taiwan-U.S. partnership over the past two decades, said the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

Under the agreement on facilitating cooperation in environmental protection, the U.S. has helped Taiwan improve its air, water and soil, the AIT said, and Taiwan, in turn, is now able to help its neighbors improve their environments.

"Taiwan now has become a partner and leader in the region," said Christopher Marut, director of AIT's Taipei office, at the opening ceremony.

Marut said in his speech that Taiwan has made great contributions despite limited access to international organizations and that the AIT supports Taiwan's participation in the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Vice Foreign Minister Vanessa Shih said on the sidelines of the event that the two countries have been discussing the issue but have not come to a conclusion.

"There are many ways of participating in international organizations, and we aim for actual and technical participation rather than simply owning a membership," she said. Taiwan has been an IRENA observer since 2011.

The U.S. has always been supportive of Taiwan's participation in international organizations, Shih added, referring to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Stephen Shen, the head of Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration, said at the ceremony that Taiwan has learned from the U.S. and that the two countries have worked on over 190 projects together.

"The U.S. has played a great role in improving Taiwan's environment and related issues," said Shen, who is scheduled to visit the U.S. next month for further environmental cooperation.

Mark Kasman, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) senior advisor for regional and bilateral affairs, also attended the opening ceremony.

The exhibition, co-organized by the AIT, Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration and the U.S. EPA, not only details the environmental achievements of the first 20 years of the partnership, but also highlights the opportunity to further strengthen it, the organizers said.

(By James Lee)