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June 23, 2017

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First lady meets with sponsored boy in El Salvador

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- First lady Christine Mei-ching Chow has met with Salvadoran youngster Mervin Lopez, an 11-year-old boy she and President Ma Ying-jeou have sponsored, with a promise to see him again.

The meeting took place at the headquarters of the World Vision branch of El Salvador located in the capital San Salvador while President Ma was attending the inauguration of El Salvador President-elect Mauricio Funes yesterday.

Chow gave Mervin several big hugs and gifts, including a new cap, satchel, and stationery items in their first encounter.

Accompanied by his family, Mervin had to take a two-hour drive for the meeting. This was their first meeting after Chow and the boy have previously communicated through correspondence.

On meeting the first lady, Mervin immediately thanked Chow for the beautiful new bed that she gave him.

Mervin's family presently lives in a low income region.

He said he now sleeps much better on the upper deck of the new double-deck bed while her eight-year-old younger sister takes the lower deck.

Chow asked many questions about Mervin's studies and extracurricular activities.

The boy responded that he likes math the most and often plays the role of striker in soccer games.

While at home, Mervin said, he frequently helps his mother clean the house, fetch water, and do other chores like cooking.

Chow promised to go back to El Salvador to meet Mervin again if he continues to be a good boy.

Mervin is one of dozens of children in Taiwan and abroad who are receiving regular financial aid from her and President Ma.

By coincidence, Mervin has the same family name in his Chinese name like Ma.

While visiting the headquarters of the World Vision branch, the first lady also met with more than 30 other Salvadoran children supported by people in Taiwan.

She had a good time with the children, including happily singing and dancing together.

Separately, President Ma told international media reporters that Taiwan will maintain its efforts to take part in U.N.-affiliated activities, backed by a strong public mandate and its participation in the recently concluded World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.

Ma said that Taiwan's success in participating in the WHA as an observer in mid-May was an indication that his administration's pragmatic policies have won support at home and abroad, and that this approach should be maintained.

The president attributed the positive development to improved Taiwan-China relations over the past year since he has been at the helm of the government.

"The incumbent administration's pragmatic and flexible diplomacy has led to improved ties between Taiwan and China and to the signing of nine accords in three rounds of bilateral talks," he noted.

"Warming cross-Taiwan Strait ties have made it possible for El Salvador not to have to take sides between Taiwan and China," he said.

"El Salvador can continue maintaining formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan while developing closer trade and economic links with China," Ma said.

"As a diplomatic partner of El Salvador, Taiwan will continue its cooperation on a wide front and will provide necessary assistance," Ma said, in response to recent remarks by President-elect Funes that El Salvador will seek better links with China when he takes office.

Earlier the same day, Ma was also interviewed by the international news media, including El Salvador's TCS and Prensa Grafica, EFE of Spain and Reuters.

Ma is leading a large delegation on the third leg of a three-country diplomatic tour of Central America that took him to Belize and Guatemala.

The president is slated to depart El Salvador June 2 and return to Taiwan June 4 via Seattle after an overnight stopover.

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