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St. Lucia to open embassy in Taiwan `soon:' minister

St. Lucia to open embassy in Taiwan `soon:' minister

Taipei, Feb. 12 (CNA) The visiting foreign minister of St. Lucia said Thursday that the his country is looking for a location to establish an embassy in Taiwan in an effort to strengthen bilateral ties, adding that the embassy will be opened "very soon." "This time, I came with the specific intention of establishing an embassy in Taiwan so that we can continue to cooperate in many different areas," said Alva Baptiste, St. Lucia's minister of external affairs, international trade and civil aviation, who is on his second visit to Taiwan as foreign minister. Establishing an embassy is "a tangible way of showing our appreciation, and our affection of the Taiwanese people and our respect," he told CNA in an interview. "I am very happy to be in Taiwan, very happy to announce that we are going to establish an embassy here in Taiwan," said the 47-year-old. Baptiste said that he and his delegation have looked at a few possible locations for the embassy in Taipei, including a major building in the city, but he declined to divulge any specifics for the time being. "We're working on it," he said, adding that the embassy is expected to open by the middle of the year. Asked about the budget, he said that St. Lucia can manage to open an embassy in Taiwan, although the final details have not been worked out. Taiwan is a good model for development from which St. Lucia can learn, said Baptiste, explaining why the country has chosen to establish an embassy in Taiwan, which will be its first in Asia. St. Lucia admires the progress Taiwan has made in education, health care and technology, he said, adding that his government believes that the Taiwan experience can be applicable to the Caribbean country as well. "So I believe it is a very good starting point in Asia," he said. "Taiwan presents the ideal scenario for us." Meanwhile, he praised bilateral ties as having moved from strength to strength in recent years. He also noted that Taiwan has been assisting St. Lucia in the fields of agriculture, infrastructure, education, health care and technology. So far, St. Lucia only has missions in a few countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. 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. 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, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Republic of China 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 first established diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1984, but switched its recognition to the People's Republic of China in 1997. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-19 19:49 GMT+08:00