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Taiwan, Panama to discuss future arrangements for bilateral ties

ROC Central News Agency

2017/06/15 17:22:52

Taipei, June 15 (CNA) Taiwan and Panama will discuss how to deal with their future relations after the two countries severed their bilateral century-long diplomatic ties earlier this week, a Taiwanese foreign affairs official said Thursday.

Panama announced its decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing Tuesday and Taiwan immediately responded that it was terminating all of its technical aid programs in Panama, following the severance of diplomatic ties.

Eleanor Wang (王珮玲), spokeswoman for Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular news briefing that Taiwan and Panama will have to discuss how to deal with their future relations.

The two countries will also have to discuss how to handle bilateral cooperation projects that have been terminated due to the ending of diplomatic ties, Wang told reporters.

Meanwhile, Wang said Taiwan's ambassador to Panama, Miguel Tsao (曹立傑), has already left the country leaving a senior official posted there to deal with the vacating of Taiwan's embassy.

The embassy has a staff of about 30 people and their dependents, who will return to Taiwan in several groups, Wang said.

Before Tsao left Panama, he hosted a ceremony to lower the Republic of China flag at the embassy, a gesture showing the severance of diplomatic relations.

Commenting on reports on Taiwan's offer of NT$90 million (US$2.9 million) to Panama in May as part of an aid program, Wang said that it was a five-year project, under which Taiwan was set to provide funds to Panama in stages.

The project was in response to Panama's requests earlier this year for Taiwan's help in such areas as agricultural research, public security maintenance, anti-drug efforts and humanitarian assistance, Wang said.

The embassy in Panama held a ceremony in May to offer the funding according to the schedule of the cooperative program, she said.

Panama's Vice President Isabel Saint Malo signed a joint communique with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) in Beijing on Tuesday, formally establishing diplomatic relations, in which Panama stressed that it would not maintain any official ties with Taiwan.

The move was widely seen as part of China's mounting efforts to isolate Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016. Tsai's administration has adopted a less conciliatory attitude toward Beijing than its predecessor.

The severance of relations leaves Taiwan with only 20 diplomatic allies, mainly Latin American and Pacific Island countries.

(By Scarlett Chai and Elaine Hou)
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