Monday, April 15, 2024

St. Lucia discusses relations with Taiwan

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CASTRIES, St Lucia, CMC – Talks on the future of diplomatic relations between St. Lucia and Taiwan are set to continue here Saturday with Foreign Minister of the Asian country, Timothy Yang, participating in the deliberations. Yang, who is on his second trip to St. Lucia since assuming office in 2009, arrived here Thursday at the start of a visit to four countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. Foreign Minister Alva Baptiste said that within the next few weeks the new St. Lucia government will make a definite decision as to whether it wants to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Under the last St. Lucia Labour Party government, Castries enjoyed diplomatic relations with China, but that was broken off in favour of Taiwan when the United Workers Party (UWP) formed the government in 2006. “We have articulated our concerns to the Taiwanese Foreign Minister about the (behaviour) of his Ambassador during the tenure of the UWP administration, and indicated in no uncertain terms that Mr. Chou was too deeply involved in the country’s political affairs. “The behaviour of the ambassador has not been in keeping with the normal behaviour of diplomats in St. Lucia and certainly that was a concern outlined to the Foreign Minister, Baptiste told reporters, adding “the issue of diplomatic relations is a serious one and government does not intend to drag its feet in making a decision”. Yang’s visit comes also at a time when the new administration is demanding that Taipei provides details regarding the disbursement of funds to the previous St. Lucia government headed by Stephenson King. Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, who has always been critical of the  Taiwanese ambassador here, Tom Chou, said while his administration has no intention of being uncivilized by putting the diplomat on the next flight back to Taiwan, he wants full disclosure of the monies allocated to the past government. Anthony said his administration would be requesting absolute transparency and full disclosure in relation to the use of the funds from Taiwan. The parties emerged from the first round of talks on Friday with the Taiwanese delegation visibly upset and declining to make a comment to reporters. But Prime Minister Anthony said that the talks would continue with his new government insisting on obtaining full disclosure on the funds issue.  “I did make it absolutely clear to the Foreign Minister that the St. Lucia Labour Party did not object to the assistance that was provided to St. Lucia. We welcome that assistance, but there are some very serious concerns about the manner in which the funds were handled. “We have concerns about the monies given to parliamentarians and the behaviour of the ambassador here, so these matters were discussed and we have agreed to continue our discussions Saturday,” Prime Minister Anthony said. A technical agreement which was due to be signed Friday between the two countries did not materialise.

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