Panama President makes first visit to Taiwan in six years

Last Updated: Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 21:37

Taipei: Panamanian President Ricardo
Martinelli arrived in Taiwan on Thursday, becoming the first leader
of the Central American nation to visit the island in six
years, officials said.

Martinelli will meet his Taiwanese counterpart Ma
Ying-jeou as well as Lai Shin-yuan, the island`s top official
in charge of ties with China, the foreign ministry said.

The trip suggested ties were improving after hanging
in the balance while left-wing Martin Torrijos served as
Panamanian president from September 2004 to July 2009.

"The visit will mark a new chapter in the bilateral
relationship," a foreign ministry official told a news on
condition of anonymity. "Unlike his predecessor, Martinelli is
more pragmatic."

The stabilisation of the ties was also in part due to
Ma`s "diplomatic truce" with Beijing, she said, alluding to a
tacit agreement between the two former rivals to stop poaching
diplomatic allies from each other.

Since his inauguration in 2008, Ma of the
Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party has pledged to ditch the
island`s "dollar diplomacy," under which it offered generous
financial packages in return for diplomatic recognition.
Only 23 countries, mostly in Latin America, Africa and
the South Pacific, recognise Taiwan.

China still regards Taiwan as part of its territory
even though the island has ruled itself since 1949 at the end
of a civil war.

While here, Martinelli will also brief local
businessmen as part of his efforts to lure investments, the
foreign ministry said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 21:37

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