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Chen lauds ties with Central American allies

Taipei Times, Taiwan

Chen lauds ties with Central American allies

By Shih Hsiu-chuan

16 September 2006

Taiwan will continue to enhance economic ties with its Central American allies through either bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) or the "Jung Pang Project," President Chen Shui-bian said yesterday.

Chen made the remarks while giving a toast at a celebration party for the 185th anniversary of Central American Independence Day, organized by the Costa Rican Embassy in Taipei yesterday.

The "Jung Pang Project" refers to an investment project worth NT$7.5 billion (US$250 million) that Chen announced during his visit to Central America last October.

The funding is allocated to help Taiwanese businesses to invest in the nation’s 12 allies in Central and South America.

"We have signed FTAs with Nicaragua and Guatemala, and we are actively negotiating an FTA with El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica," Chen said.

"Under FTA frameworks and the `Jung Pang Project,’ Taiwan can help allies with their economic development plans and create more job opportunities," he added.

In his speech, Chen thanked the nation’s allies for speaking out over many years in support of Taiwan’s participation in international community.

Chen also said that Taiwan will not give up or feel disappointed at its repeated failure to join the UN, but will work hard to pursue that goal until Taiwan becomes a formal member of the world body.

"We will never despair or give up, but will actively figure out some new strategies to work toward that goal until Taiwan officially becomes a member of the UN," he said.

A proposal put forward by Taiwan’s diplomatic allies calling for Taiwan’s participation in the UN has been excluded from the agenda of the 61st session of the UN General Assembly, which opened on Tuesday in New York.

This year was the the 14th in a row in which Taiwan has failed in its bid to participate in the world body because of China’s obstruction.

He said that relations between Taiwan and its Central American allies can be enhanced on the basis of the common values and existing friendship.

"Taiwan and its Central American allies all suffered under authoritarian regimes without democracy, freedom and justice. Now, the autocrats are gone, and we all cherish the values of democracy and freedom," he said.

"We will continue to deepen democracy in Taiwan. Meanwhile, we urged China to step up its pace of democratization. Only a democratic Taiwan and a democratic China can contribute to peace in the Asia-Pacific Area," he added.