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MOFA to beef up efforts to strengthen relations with non-allies

MOFA to beef up efforts to strengthen relations with non-allies

Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Wednesday that it will beef up efforts under the current modus vivendi diplomatic approach to strengthen relations with countries with which Taiwan does not have diplomatic relations.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco H. L. Ou said at a press conference that the modus vivendi approach that President Ma Ying-jeou has adopted since his inauguration in May has benefited Taiwan and "indeed resulted in many positive developments." For instance, the minister said, the ministry is expected to establish representative offices next year in the Japanese city of Sapporo and in Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, which would help facilitate mutual exchanges between Taiwan and the two countries and provide Taiwan citizens in those cities with better services.
Taiwan also reached agreements with Canada and Japan in June and October, respectively, on reciprocal recognition of drivers' licenses, Ou added.
Meanwhile, the ministry would seek advice and assistance from the semi-official Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and from private business groups on ways to enhance commercial links with Southeast Asian countries, which are traditionally important trading partners with Taiwan, according to the minister.
He admitted, however, that "there are still a lot of obstacles to clear" if Taiwan is to set up representative offices in some regional countries such as Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.
Therefore, the ministry will discuss with the TAITRA the possibility of first establishing TAITRA trade centers in those countries, Ou said.
In addition, in view of Taiwan's promise to make its foreign aid programs transparent, Australia and New Zealand have recently expressed interest in cooperating on the programs to be implemented by Taiwan in the South Pacific island states with which it has diplomatic ties, Ou said.
Furthermore, Ou disclosed that President Ma might attend summits or embark on state visits next year to secure closer diplomatic ties with Taiwan's allies in the South Pacific and Central and South America.
As Ma's first state visit to Taiwan's Central and South American allies in August proved successful, Ou said, the ministry will work toward making similar arrangements and has suggested several events that Ma could attend, such as the presidential inauguration ceremonies in Panama and El Salvador slated for mid-2009.
(By Jian Chen)