• Directory of Taiwan

Foreign ministry spokesman admits to gaffe on Honduras situation

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman Henry Chen admitted yesterday that he responded too fast and gave incorrect information on the situation in Honduras Sunday, and said that he accepted full responsibility for the gaffe. He was referring to the fact that the Foreign Ministry gave conflicting information Sunday on the military coup in Honduras, saying at first that there was no coup then later confirming that President Manuel Zelaya had been arrested by the army.
The foreign ministry was panned by the media and the opposition parties for responding slowly to the developments in Honduras and being out of the loop, especially as President Ma Ying-jeou was due to depart the next day on a trip to the region, which would have included a two-day visit to Honduras. "I responded to the reporters' questions too soon in the beginning and I take responsibility (for what I said)," Chen stated. "I should have gotten official word (from Honduras) and confirmed every detail before commenting on something as major as this," he added.
In his own defense, however, Chen said that he was not obliged to respond to questions from the press that urgently because in a situation like that more time was needed to obtain official word from Honduras. According to Chen, he later clarified the situation and half an hour after his first statement he confirmed to reporters in Taiwan that a coup had taken place in Honduras.
However, the foreign ministry will review its entire handling of the matter, he added. Meanwhile, when asked whether the foreign ministry will issue a statement on the political situation in Honduras, especially as the the United States and the European Union have publicly condemned the military takeover, Chen said the MOFA is usually extremely cautious in its handling of such matters, given Taiwan's special international situation.
The foreign ministry is in close contact with all the leaders in Honduras, including the interim leader Roberto Micheletti, and will respect the election results of the Honduran democratic process, he added.
As to whether Ma will meet with Zelaya, who is currently in Nicaragua, Chen said this is not on Ma's official itinerary for his Friday-Saturday visit to that country, but adjustments could be made depending on the situation.