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Taiwan leader arrives in Panama for Martinelli inaugural

`Taiwan and Panama are true friends,` says Ma

President Ma Ying-jeou declared that ``Panama and Taiwan are true friends`` after arriving
in the Central American nation Tuesday afternoon on a three - day state visit to attend the July 1 inaugural of President - elect Ricardo Martinelli of the conservative Democratic Change party.

The chartered EVA Boeing 747-400 Combi bearing Ma and his entourage of over 200 government officials and staff, ruling Kuomintang lawmakers, the Ju Percussion Group and nearly 40 news workers landed at Panama City International Airport at 3:42 pm local time (4:42 am July 1 Taipei time) after a six hour and 40 minute flight from San Francisco, where the president had an overnight transit stop.

Ma was greeted by an honor guard dressed in blue and white 19th century uniforms and was welcomed by Panamanian Ambassador to Nicaragua Miguel Lecaro and Meliton Arrocha, who will be the vice minister for foreign affairs in the new government.

In brief remarks made at the airport, Ma said he was honored to be able to visit Panama for the second time, the first as Taipei City mayor in 2001, to attend the transfer of power as the representative of the Republic of China.

Ma stated that the May 3 presidential election had been conducted in a ``democratic and peaceful atmosphere`` and set an example for democratic development.

The Taiwan president said that ties between the two nations had deepened with the signing of a free trade agreement in 2004 and added that he would shortly afterward meet with the president elect to discuss how mutual relations could continue to expand and advance.

Ma concluded his remarks in Spanish by saying that he was happy to be in Panama and declaring that ``Taiwan y Panama somos verdaeros amigos`` or ``Taiwan and Panama are true friends.``

The president and his motorcade then proceed to the Sheraton Panama Hotel where he was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of about 50 overseas Taiwanese compatriots.

Ma and President - elect Martinelli were scheduled to hold an half-hour meeting in the Panama Presidential Suite at the Sheraton and later was slated to be interviewed by local and international media before attending a banquet to be hosted by outgoing President Martin Torrijos and his wife at the National Guest House.

Besides attending the inaugural on July 1, Ma will inspect part of the Panama Canal and participate in other activities before leaving for a two day state visit to Nicaragua on the morning of July 3.

Updated : 2022-01-19 22:31 GMT+08:00