Debut Taiwan-U.S. forum to help solidify ties with Pacific allies

10/05/2019 02:15 PM
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Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉, center)
Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉, center)

Taipei, Oct. 5 (CNA) A first-ever Pacific Islands Dialogue co-organized by Taiwan and the United States will be held in Taipei on Monday to explore opportunities for the two countries to work closer together in the region to solidify Taiwan's ties with its Pacific allies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Saturday.

The one-day forum will open with addresses made by Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Sandra Oudkirk, U.S. State Department's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands, who will fly to Taiwan over the weekend, said Deputy Foreign Minister Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉).

The upcoming visit of Oudkirk, who assumed the deputy assistant secretary post in May, shows the cordial relations between the two countries and her support for Taiwan, Hsu added.

According to Hsu, the forum is launched to serve as a platform for Taiwan and the U.S. and other like-minded countries to work more efficiently in their foreign aid projects in the Pacific Island countries.

Representatives from both countries will elaborate on their concrete assistance to the Pacific nations and discuss possible future cooperation "to send a clear message to the region that the two are working closer to maintain regional order," Hsu said.

Aside from representatives from Taiwan and the U.S., top envoys in Taiwan from Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and some European countries are also scheduled to participate in the forum, according to MOFA.

The event comes just days after Taiwan lost two Pacific allies, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, to Beijing in September.

The country is now left with 15 allies worldwide, four of which are in the Pacific region: the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, and Tuvalu.

Asked if the forum is organized as a direct response to the incidents, Baushuan Ger (葛葆萱), head of MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the preparations for the event has been ongoing for around six months and has no direct relations with Taiwan losing two diplomatic allies recently.

"Taiwan and the U.S. have, over the past months, been discussing on how to work closer to help Taiwan keep its diplomatic allies in the region as the U.S. is also paying close attention to the regional development," Ger said.

Each side takes turns to host the annual event, which will be held in the U.S. next year, he added.

Meanwhile, according to MOFA, Oudkirk also concurrently serves as U.S. Senior Official for APEC.

During her stay in Taiwan, Oudkirk will meet with senior Taiwanese officials and officials responsible for APEC-related affairs to discuss future cooperation projects. She will also attend the annual Yushan Forum to be held on Oct. 8 and 9 in Taipei.

The Yushan Forum was inaugurated in October 2017 as an institutionalized dialogue platform on cooperation between Taiwan, the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members, six South Asian countries, New Zealand and Australia under the New Southbound Policy, as well as other regional players, including the U.S. and Japan.

(By Elaine Hou and Joseph Yeh)


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