African ally says president's visit to China 'non-political'
Central News Agency
2014-06-16 10:50 PM
Taipei, June 16 (CNA) A recent trip to China by the president of Sao Tome and Principe was solely for economic purposes, a senior Sao Tomean official said in Taipei on Monday to ease concerns here that diplomatic ties were in jeopardy. Amaro Couto, the chief secretary of the presidential office in Sao Tome and Principe, told Taiwanese foreign affairs officials that President Manuel Pinto da Costa visited China only to solicit investment in the African country's deep-water harbor. Sao Tome and Principe values its diplomatic ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and avoided any political contact with Beijing during the president's trip, Couto said. The West African island nation sought China's financial support after France withdrew from the US$500 million project to build the harbor, Couto was cited as saying by a diplomatic source. Although Pinto did not attend any public activities during his trip in China as promised, he did visit Beijing without informing Taipei in advance, the source said. Couto declined to elaborate on who Pinto met with in Beijing, saying only that the visit to Beijing was made because "it was deemed necessary." The source said Taiwan voiced its objections that the head of state of the African ally visited China, and the Sao Tomean official responded that he was fully aware of the ROC's position and stressed that his country valued existing bilateral relations. Pinto has also accepted Taiwan's invitation to visit the country in late 2014 or early 2015, the ministry said. Taiwan and Sao Tome and Principe have maintained close relations for many years. The West African island country, one of Taiwan's 22 diplomatic allies, established diplomatic relations with the ROC in 1997. (By Tang Pei-chun and Lee Hsin-Yin)
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