VOHOR EMBRACES TAIWAN IN SURPRISE SWITCH

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 4) – Vanuatu Prime Minister Serge Vohor has announced a diplomatic pact with Taiwan that reverses his country's recognition of rival China.

The move comes a month after Mr Vohor returned from a trip to Beijing, during which he pledged Vanuatu’s diplomatic allegiance to mainland China.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister, Chen Tan-sun, says the two countries have signed a communiqué to recognize each other and open a full diplomatic relationship.

He says they have pledged to strengthen bilateral ties with expanded trade and that Vanuatu has offered to support Taiwan's bid to join the United Nations, the World Health Organization and other regional and global bodies.

A senior government official in Vanuatu says he's shocked and surprised by the news.

Vanuatu Foreign Affairs Department Director-General, George Manuri, says the decision is a complete reversal of Vanuatu's "One China" policy of recognizing mainland China.

Mr Manuri says the Foreign Affairs Department is unaware of any discussions between Mr Vohor and the Taiwanese government, or even that the prime minister had gone to Taiwan.

The AFP news agency says senior officials believed Mr Vohor had gone to Singapore and was due in Australia on Wednesday.

Vanuatu is the 27th country to establish official relations with Taiwan.

China insists Taiwan is part of Chinese territory awaiting reunification, despite their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

November 4, 2004

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

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