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Taiwan diplomat heads to Tuvalu to congratulate new government

03/05/2024 01:29 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, March 5 (CNA) Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Chung-kwang (田中光) left Taiwan for Tuvalu on Monday night to congratulate the Pacific ally's new government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

Acting as President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) special envoy, Tien will be attending a series of celebrations in the wake of the appointment of Feleti Teo as Tuvalu's new prime minister late last month and his newly formed Cabinet, MOFA said in a press release.

Aside from meeting with Teo, Tien is scheduled to visit with Governor-General Tofiga Falani and Foreign Minister Paulson Panapa to discuss bilateral cooperation projects, it said.

According to MOFA, it could take two days before Tien arrives in Tuvalu. He is scheduled to return to Taiwan on March 9.

The Republic of China, Taiwan's formal name, established diplomatic relations with Tuvalu in 1979, but there were concerns before Teo was appointed on Feb. 26 that Taiwan's ties with the Pacific island country could be in jeopardy.

Former Tuvaluan Finance Minister Seve Paeniu, who was reelected as a member of parliament on Jan. 26 and vied for the prime minister seat, told Reuters in January that Tuvalu's ties with Taiwan "need to be debated and reviewed in the new parliament."

Paeniu said Tuvalu's people wanted more financial support from the international community to help the island nation address climate change and other issues.

After being appointed as prime minister unopposed, Teo immediately announced that his government was sticking to Taipei instead of switching to Beijing.

"Our ties with Taiwan are purely based on democratic principles and they have been very loyal to us," Teo told the Associated Press in an interview on Feb. 26.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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