Taiwan: Foreign minister to seek support in Europe next month
Chen revealed his plans while speaking at a session of the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee. The session was held to discuss the nation's diplomatic situation in light of President Chen Shui-bian's inauguration for a second four-year term.
During the session, KMT Legislator Sun Kuo-hua said that the votes cast by E.U. countries last month against Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Assembly -- the World Health Organization's governing body -- indicated that Taiwan should devote more energy to boosting ties with the 25-member bloc.
In response, Chen said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had consistently given priority to forging closer ties with the European Union. With the number of E.U. member states expanding from 15 to 25 last month, Taiwan must make an even greater effort to promote relations with the bloc, the minister said.
Chen is expected to leave on his European trip next month with a view to integrating the resources of the Taiwan representative offices in European countries.
Asked whether the ministry had been pressured by the United States over its arms procurement budget, Chen said, "Although our diplomatic staff may talk about arms procurement plans with American officials in private, the weaponry procurement issue is principally handled by the Ministry of National Defense. The foreign ministry has not so far felt any U.S. pressure over the arms procurement plan."
Opposition lawmakers brought up the issue of arms purchases
because the Cabinet last week passed a ministry-proposed NT$610.8 billion (US$18.23
billion) plan to buy weapons from the United States.
Source: Government Information Office