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President talks about Taiwan's aid to Haiti

ROC Central News Agency

2010/01/28 17:18:13

Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Jan. 27 (CNA) Visiting Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said here Wednesday that he will exchange views with Haiti Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Thursday to see what aid Taiwan may offer to the earthquake-devastated Caribbean country.

Ma, who arrived in Honduras earlier in the day for the inauguration of President-elect Porfirio Lobo Sosa, told Taiwan journalists who are accompanying him on the trip that his administration has not yet come up specific plans to help Haiti in the aftermath of a magnitude-7 quake that struck the country on Jan.

12.

Noting that rescue operations in Haiti have ended and reconstruction is about to begin, Ma said Taiwan might provide prefabricated housing, based on its extensive experience in resettling its own displaced people after natural disasters.

As for the international community's calls for debt forgiveness for Haiti by foreign lenders, Ma said that possibility is being considered by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Taiwan's private banks, which have loaned money to Haiti.

"We are trying to somehow relieve Haiti of its debts, but we have not yet come up with a plan." Ma said.

He lauded a suggestion by C. V. Chen, president of the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China, for the Taiwan government and civil groups to build permanent shelters for people in Haiti who have been rendered homeless by the earthquake.

Chen, who is part of the president's entourage on the trip, told journalists earlier that day that "Taiwan could significantly enhance its international profile by building new homes for the Haitian people." Meanwhile, President Ma said that a mission by a Taiwan Air Force carrier to transport medical supplies to Haiti was "perfect." It earned praise in Western countries, Ma noted.

"It was the longest trip ever made by one of Taiwan's C130s and it allowed Taiwan to obtain a lot of valuable information." the president said.

The carrier, which left Taiwan Jan. 16, had to stop at three U.S.

air bases for refueling, before landing on Jan. 24 at San Isidro Airbase in the Dominican Republic where it unloaded the supplies.

Taiwan officials called it a milestone in ties between Taipei and Washington, as it was the first time that a Taiwan Air Force aircraft had ever landed on U.S. soil since the two countries severed diplomatic ties in 1979.

When he leaves Tegucigalpa, Ma is scheduled to make a three-hour stop in Santo Domingo on the return leg of his trip.

He will pay a courtesy call on the host country's President Leonel Fernandez, and will meet with Haiti Prime Minister Bellerive to whom he will hand over 10 tons of relief supplies for Haiti.

Ma will return to Taiwan via Los Angeles, California.

(By Garfie Li, Chiachen Hsieh and Maubo Chang) enditem /pc



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