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Chen makes transit stop in Abu Dhabi
SURPRISE STOPOVER: President Chen touched down in the capital of the United Arab Emirates briefly in a bid to bolster bilateral relations with the oil-rich state
BY CHIU YU-TZU
STAFF REPORTER , IN ABU DHABI
Saturday, Oct 01, 2005,Page 1
Advertising President Chen Shui-bian (é³æ°´æ) made an unannounced visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has no official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, in an effort to strengthen bilateral economic relations and explore an increase in investment in the Middle East oil industry.
Chen, who has been on an overseas diplomatic mission to Central America and the Caribbean since Sept. 20, yesterday headed for home from St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
Unexpectedly, he was allowed to transit in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.
Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed al- Nahyan, head of trading and economic affairs for the UAE, went aboard Chen's plane yesterday afternoon at the airport to greet the president.
Shortly after checking in at the luxurious Emirates Palace Hotel, Chen was immediately invited to visit Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed al- Nahyan Mosque and was later treated to a grand feast by Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
A commercial office of the Republic of China (ROC) has been located in Dubai for years. But according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (é³åå±±), a member of Chen's delegation, the office might soon be moved to Abu Dhabi in a bid to further strengthen both economical and political bilateral relations .
President Chen Shui-bian, center, arrives in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), yesterday for a one-day stopover. He was greeted upon his arrival by Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, second left, head of trading and economic affairs for the UAE.
The UAE claims to have nearly 100 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, or about 10 percent of total proven world oil reserves.
"However, with fear of dwindling oil supplies, the government has appealed to foreign businessmen investing here to improve its tourism industry," Chen said.
In addition, Chen said that the UAE has expressed interest in launching a joint venture with Taiwan in the oil industry.
Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (ä½ç¾ç¥) said that a company called Kuo Kuang Technology Co, which has investment from the Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC) and other private companies, will soon launch a project involving oil refining and other petrochemical manufacturing in the UAE.
"Getting as close as we can to sources of crude oil is an efficient way to lower costs," Ho said.
However, Ho said that whether Taiwan would get involved with oil exploration remains uncertain.
According to Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (é»å¿è³), Chen's transit in UAE was a breakthrough.
"Taiwan is in a diplomatic plight. That's why we cannot let any chance pass for us to broaden our international space." Huang said.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines was the final leg of Chen's five-nation, 13-day diplomatic tour to Central America and the Caribbean which also took him to Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Chen and his entourage also made a stopover in Miami, Florida en route to Guatemala. Chen's arrival home will be postponed from today to tomorrow.
Meanwhile, in related news, National security sources said that Vice Minister of National Defense Hou Shou-yeh (éå®æ¥) left a legislative interpellation session early on Wednesday because he had to lead a delegation to the UAE that afternoon to promote military diplomacy and exchanges.
Hou attended the session on Wednesday to report on the Ministry of National Defense's proposed budget for the purchase of eight US submarines.
His assistant told Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Wen-chung (ææå¿ ), who was the session chairman that Hou had to be excused around 10:30am to "attend a meeting."
The UAE has reportedly always been friendly to Taiwan, despite lack of official ties.
Abu Dhabi is said to be particularly interested in buying Taiwan-made small arms.
National security officials said that it is too early to carry out actual military exchanges with the UAE at present. However, thanks to the good reputation of Taiwan-produced T-91 battle rifles and other small arms being used in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi is especially enthusiastic about talks with Hou over the purchase of such small arms.
Many countries are currently using small arms manufactured in Taiwan because of the excellent quality of such weapons. A special characteristic of these weapons is that none of them identifies their manufacturing country.
Additional reporting by Hsu Shao-hsuan, translated by Eddy Chang