Central News Agency
2014-01-24 01:19 AM
"Relations with the United States and Japan, which maintain no diplomatic ties with the ROC, have been in the most stable situation in the past few decades," the president said at the airport before his departure on an eight-day diplomatic tour that will take him to three of the ROC's diplomatic allies in Africa and Central America.
"Besides, 135 countries or regions have granted ROC nationals visa-free treatment, thanks to the flexible diplomacy strategy," he said.
The president said the visit is to explore more cooperative projects in the fields of agriculture, medical care, education, tourism and sonar energy with the three allies, which he said will be helpful to their development in the future.
Ma reportedly would be flying northward through Russian airspace on his way to the West African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe on the first leg of his trip.
On the way, Ma would also make a refueling stop in Frankfurt, Germany.
The Presidential Office has not confirmed the report. A source familiar with the matter said that flying northward via Russia and Germany would be a relatively quicker route to Africa than the one used by Taiwan's presidents in the past, which took them south over India and the Middle East.
The visit will be Ma's ninth diplomatic tour since he first took office in 2008.
Sao Tome and Principe is the only ROC diplomatic ally that Ma has not yet visited during his more than five years in office. On the second leg of his tour, Ma will visit another African ally Burkina Faso.
He will then travel to Honduras in Central America where he will attend the inauguration of Honduran president-elect Juan Orlando Hernandez on Jan. 27. Ma is scheduled to return to Taiwan via Los Angeles on Jan. 30. He is being accompanied by an entourage that consists of senior officials, including Foreign Minister David Lin, as well as business leaders and academics. His visit comes two months after the African nation of The Gambia abruptly ended diplomatic ties with the Republic of China, leaving it with just 22 allies. (By Kelven Huang, Sofia Wu and Bear Lee)