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President proposes `mutual assistance committee' with Paraguay

President proposes `mutual assistance committee' with Paraguay

Asuncion, Paraguay, Aug. 14 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou proposed Wednesday that a "mutual assistance committee" be set up to promote bilateral cooperation programs between Taiwan and Paraguay -- the country's only diplomatic ally in South America. Ma is in Paraguay to attend the Aug. 15 inauguration of President-elect Horacio Cartes. He unveiled the idea while addressing a luncheon with a group of Taiwanese expatriates that took place following meetings with Cartes and outgoing President Federico Franco. Cartes noted during his meeting with Ma that the Republic of China has never stopped helping Paraguay over the past 56 years since the two countries established diplomatic ties. The president-elect suggested that the two countries work to develop a relationship in which Paraguay will be able to reciprocate, not just accept help, according to Ma. Ma said this goal can be achieved through the establishment of a mutual assistance committee that could explore possible areas for cooperation. For example, he said, Paraguay is rich in natural resources and agricultural products such as beef, wheat and soybeans, and Taiwan is considering importing more of these products. Ma pointed out that since he assumed office in 2008, he has adopted a flexible approach to diplomacy while working to improve Taiwan's relations with mainland China. Such efforts have produced substantive results, with Taiwan's relations with its 23 allies continuing to strengthen, he said. There has also been significant progress with regard to Taiwan's bids to participate in international organizations, he added. Speaking of his transit stop in New York earlier this week, Ma said it was his first visit to the U.S. city since becoming president and that the courtesy provided to him by the U.S. government also reached its "highest level ever" over the past five years. While in New York, Ma said, he went to the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum and his alma mater, New York University. He also became the first ROC president to visit the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) of New York, which represents Chinese Americans living in the Greater New York metropolitan area. During the visit, a street was sealed off for lion and dragon dances as part of a welcoming ceremony, which has not happened during his previous stopovers in the United States, Ma said. In addition, Ma said he had phone conversations with 12 members of the U.S. Congress and administration officials. He also met with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and two members of the U.S. House of Representatives. This demonstrates that the U.S. government has restored its trust in Taiwan thanks to efforts by his administration to keep a low profile and ensure "zero surprises" in Taiwan-U.S. relations, he said. After the luncheon, Ma paid a visit to the National University of Asuncion, where he was conferred with an honorary doctoral degree. During his address, the president suggested that Taiwan and Paraguay promote cooperation in medical services. He noted that Taiwan has 14 hospitals that are listed among the world's top 200, the third-largest number for a single country after the United States and Germany. The quality of health care in Taiwan was rated by the U.K.-based Economist magazine in 2000 as the world's second-best after Sweden, he said. In what may have set a world record, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital President Chen Chao-long has so far performed more than 1,000 living donor liver transplants, he noted. The hospital has begun to cooperate with Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Latin America to share its experience in this area, Ma added. (By Kelven Huang and Y.F. Low)


Updated : 2021-05-12 06:53 GMT+08:00