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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, August 2) – Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister Patteson Oti has assured Taiwan’s president Chen Shui-bian of the Island Government’s commitment to Taiwan.

Mr. Oti, who is currently visiting Taiwan, made this assurance during a meeting with President Chen Shui-bian on Monday.

He said contrary to media reports in the past; there is no change in policy of the new government towards Taiwan.

"Solomon Islands under the new government remains a strong supporter and close friend of Taiwan," Mr. Oti said.

Mr. Oti is leading a four member delegation, which includes Chairman of Government Caucus Steve Abana, North Guadalcanal MP Martin Sophage and Foreign Affairs deputy secretary Senda Fifi’i.

Mr. Oti said the high level visits exchanged between the two countries including the president’s visit to Solomon Islands in early 2005 are a reflection of a strong and growing relationship between them.

This was the first high level delegation from Solomon Islands to visit Taiwan since the new government was formed in May.

President Chen Shui-bian acknowledged with highest respect, the consistent support his country has been receiving from the Solomon Islands.

He said his government is committed to intensify its cooperative programs in the country in order to meet the national interests and objectives of the country, including the program on poverty alleviation.

The President was also pleased with the progress of the draft Framework Co-operation Agreement and the Volunteer Agreement, which are soon to be concluded and signed between the two countries.

Mr. Oti said the cooperation and relationship between these two countries will certainly be enhanced when the Frame Work Agreement comes in - paving the way for the two countries to review and improve existing programs; diversify to new areas of cooperation and engage in high level policy dialogue on regular basis.

"The Poverty Alleviation Program ties in well with the new Government’s policy and focus on rural development. The Volunteer Agreement when implemented will also add a new dimension to Taiwan’s growing assistance to Solomon Islands," the Foreign Affairs Minister said.

The Minister also expressed to the President, SI Government’s gratitude for the generous assistance the country has been receiving from Taiwan and also assured Taiwan of Solomon Islands continued support for membership and participation in international organizations and forums.

Meanwhile the Taiwanese president said he looked forward to meeting Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare in mid August and later, in Palau for the Taiwan/Pacific Allies Summit in early September.

The President, through Minister Oti, expresses his best wishes to the Governor General, H.E. Nathaniel Waena.

[PIR editor’s note: According to PIR archives, the Solomons and Taiwan have a long history together. Some issues that have arisen in recent years include a proposal to make the Solomons a toxic waste dump for Taiwan, misused funds from Taiwan by Solomons officials, and –on a better note- Taiwan funding Solomons students education abroad.]

August 3, 2006

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