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Taiwan fetes foreign envoys at annual spring banquet
Central News Agency
2013-02-20 10:23 PM
Taipei, Feb. 20 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted an annual spring banquet Wednesday for foreign ambassadors and representatives posted in Taiwan and thanked them for helping to expand Taiwan's international presence. The banquet, held shortly after the Lunar New Year holiday, was attended by representatives from Taiwan's diplomatic allies as well as from countries that do not have official ties with Taiwan, such as Japan, the United States and some European countries. President Ma Ying-jeou thanked the diplomats for the support offered by their countries for Taiwan's participation in global organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Ma also reiterated that Taiwan is a peace loving nation that will always stick with peaceful means of addressing international disputes, including the territorial dispute among Taiwan, Japan and China over the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea. Ma said, however, that even as Taiwan is working to expand its international space, it has been making efforts to improve its relations with China. Foreign Minister David Lin also praised the work of the diplomatic corps in Taiwan, saying its members have helped the government agencies and people of Taiwan to raise the country's international profile. Over the past year, Taiwan has enhanced its relations with its 23 diplomatic allies and other nations, he said. Taiwanese nationals now enjoy visa-free or landing visa entry to 131 countries and regions, which has helped to smooth leisure and business trips overseas, Lin noted. "We're also talking with quite a few countries on signing economic agreements, or FTAs, in order to explore new opportunities for business communities and open up new economic and trade avenues for Taiwan," he said. On behalf of the diplomatic community in Taiwan, Jacques Y. Sawadogo, Bukina Faso's ambassador to Taiwan, praised the East China Peace initiative proposed by Ma last August. He also paid tribute to Taiwan's efforts to provide economic and humanitarian assistance to countries in need. The banquet, which offered a wide cuisine, also had a new feature this year. For the first time, members of the diplomatic corps were part of the entertainment. Levente Szekely, Hungaria's representative to Taiwan, played traditional Hungarian music on the violin, while his wife Hedi Sztano Szekelyne performed a Hungarian "bottle dance." Ambassadors of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru, Solomon Islands, and the Kingdom of Swaziland also showcased traditional South Pacific dances. (By Elaine Hou)
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