Taipei, Feb. 12 (CNA) The foreign minister of St. Lucia is visiting Taiwan to look for a location to set up an embassy in order to strengthen bilateral ties, a Taiwanese official said Thursday.
Antonio Yeh (葉德貴), counselor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, talked about the visit by Alva Baptiste, St. Lucia's minister of external affairs, international trade and civil aviation, at a news conference.
Yeh made the remarks in response to questions about the latest development in St. Lucia's plan to set up an embassy in Taiwan, after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) talked about the issue when receiving St. Lucia's foreign minister at the Presidential Office two days earlier.
So far, St. Lucia only has embassies in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as in the European Union, Yeh said, adding that Taiwan will be the first country in Asia in which St. Lucia has an embassy.
The Caribbean country made the decision in recent months, as the country is aiming to attract foreign investment, promote tourism and advance trade ties with other countries, Yeh said.
Of Taiwan's 22 diplomatic allies, St. Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are the only two countries that have not set up embassies in Taiwan.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines currently has no plans to open an embassy here, Yeh said.
"We hope that all of our diplomatic allies will establish embassies in Taiwan," he added.
Baptiste arrived Feb. 8 and will stay until Feb. 13, during which he is scheduled to call on officials at the ministries of foreign and economic affairs, the Environmental Protection Administration and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), the country's main trade promotion body, the ministry said.
The Republic of China (Taiwan) and St. Lucia have maintained close cooperation in public health, education, infrastructure and culture since the two countries resumed diplomatic relations in 2007 following a 10-year hiatus. St. Lucia established diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1984, but switched its recognition to the People's Republic of China in 1997.
(By Elaine Hou)ENDITEM/J