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By Agnes M. Abrau & Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Jan. 31) – Palau President Tommy Remengesau, along with a throng of top-ranking officials, security people and a group of Airai Elementary School students and Taiwanese residents, here welcomed the arrival of Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian to Palau.

The Taiwanese president, aboard a China Airlines jet, touched down on Palau at around 3:45 p.m. Thursday.

Remengesau and his cabinet members formed a line and greeted Chen.

Upon disembarkation and greeting, President Chen quickly proceeded to the cordoned area amid the pouring rain where students and the Taiwanese community shook hands with him, chanting "welcome" to the president.

He was then led to a waiting limousine with Taiwan Ambassador to Palau Clark K. H. Chen for a courtesy call at the President’s Office.

At the Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge, another group of Airai Elementary School students, carrying Taiwan and Palau miniature flags, waved at the president when his limousine passed by. The jovial president rolled down his window to wave at the students.

Chen addressed President Remengesau and his cabinet members at the president’s office at 4: 30 p.m.

Remengesau said Chen’s visit would open gates to more tourists from Palau.

Chen said he has been thinking of visiting Palau for many years and coming to the island nation was a dream come true for him.

Through an interpreter Chen lauded Palau for the unique way of welcoming him into the country.

He also thanked Palau for the continued support it has bestowed on them through the government’s endorsement of Taiwan to become a member of the United Nations and World Health Organization.

"For that the 23 million people of Taiwan are grateful," Chen said.

Chen said under Remengesau’s leadership, the relationship between the two countries has grown.

Chen said he is the first ever President of Taiwan to visit Palau and also the first ever Republic of China head of state to visit allies in the Pacific.

As a gift, Remengesau gave Chen an ebakl, a traditional Palauan axe, which symbolizes man’s strength.

At past 5 p.m., Chen met with members of the 7th Olbiil Era Kelulau to attend a joint session by the Senate and the House of Delegates.

The full-packed Senate Chamber was filled with traditional leaders, cabinet members and governors who listened to President Chen.

Outside the chamber, crowd gathered to watch the activities inside the chamber through a televised coverage.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has finally arrived in Palau leading the biggest delegation in the country to attend the inaugural of the 7th Constitutional Government.

The first Tawain president to have visited Palau, Chen extends his congratulations to the government and the people with this opportunity.

Chen, in his message to the Palauans, said he has looked forward to visiting Palau.

"Today, this long cherished wish is finally fulfilled. It is my good fortune to be the first president of the Republic of China to visit Palau. But this trip stands for more than history; it symbolizes the strong friendship that the 23 million people of Taiwan and I share with President Tommy Remengesau and the people of Palau," he said in his speech.

Chen said Taiwan and Palau have worked together closely since its establishment of diplomatic relations in Dec. 1999.

"I am confident that the friendship between our two countries, based on a solid foundation of reciprocity and mutual benefits, can only grow stronger and more enduring with the passing years," Chen said.

Chen reiterated his gratitude for Palau’s voice of support for Taiwan in the UN and WHO.

"With unwavering courage and determination, Taiwan will absolutely continue to fulfill its rights and duties within the international community, and contribute to the common good with vigor," he said.

He added that while Taiwan is described "as a sanctum of democracy and a strategic citadel in the Western Pacific," Palau, he said, is noted as the most beautiful and brilliant star in the great constellation of the Pacific Islands.

January 31, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com


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