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Vice president to visit three allies in South Pacific: official

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Vice President Annette Lu will leave for the South Pacific today aboard a special plane to visit three of Taiwan's diplomatic allies there — the Marshall Islands, Nauru and the Solomon Islands, a Presidential Office official said yesterday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the main objective of Lu's trip is to participate in Nauru's Jan. 31 National Day celebrations in her capacity as President Chen Shui-bian's special envoy.

According to the official, Lu will make a brief transit stop in U.S. territory of Guam before arriving in the Marshall Islands for a two-day visit. While there, the vice president will meet with Marshall Islands President Litokwa Tomeing and review the operations of Taiwan's agricultural technical mission.

Lu is scheduled to fly into Nauru Jan. 31 to take part in a series of festivities marking its National Day, the official said, adding that she will also hold talks with Nauru President Marcus Stephen, visit a fruit and vegetable demonstration area developed by a group of Taiwan's agricultural experts and visit a local mining district.

Following her one-day stay in Nauru, Lu will proceed to the Solomon Islands for a one-day visit, where she will meet with Governor-General Nathaniel Waena to exchange views on issues of mutual concern.

The vice president is scheduled to return to Taiwan Feb. 2 after making a 30-minute stopover in Guam, according to the official.

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