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Haiti president to begin 4-day state visit to ROC

TAIPEI--Haiti's President Michel Joseph Martelly will begin a four-day state visit to Taiwan on April 21 as the two nations celebrate 58 years of diplomatic ties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Saturday.

Martelly will head a 30-member delegation, which will include Haiti's Minister of Foreign Affairs Duly Brutus, Minister of Commerce and Industry Wilson Laleau, and Minster of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development Thomas Jacques, MOFA said in a statement.

In addition, a number of Haitian governmental officials, top industry heads and media representatives will accompany the president and his wife on the visit.

This will be Martelly's first visit to Taiwan as Haiti's head of state after he assumed office in May 2011. During the visit, he will hold talks with President Ma Ying-jeou and the two leaders will sign a joint communique, MOFA said.

The upcoming trip is important for bilateral relations because it has been 12 years since a Haitian president last visited Taiwan, said MOFA. The last Haitian president who visited Taiwan was President Jean-Bertrand Aristide who came here in July 2002, during President Chen Shui-bian's first term in office.

David Lin, Taiwan's foreign minister, will meet with his Haitian counterpart Brutus, and the two will complete the signing of an agreement on Taiwan helping to strengthen Haiti's rice production.

Martelly, along with Haiti's top commercial and industrial figures, will attend a seminar on trade and investment on April 22 hosted by MOFA and the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association.

First Lady Sophia Martelly, who is known for her devotion to women's rights protection and children's care, will meet with Taiwan's Minister of Health and Welfare Chiu Wen-ta. She is also scheduled to visit the Tzu Chi Foundation — the largest NGO in the Chinese-speaking world — and also the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, according to MOFA.

The Haitian delegation will also stop by many cultural and economic establishments, such as the 921 Earthquake Museum in Nantou County, the Central Taiwan Science Park, the Taichung District Agriculture Research and Extension Station, and Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan.

The upcoming arrival of Haiti's top officials follows a similar visit to Haiti by President Ma last August, when he was given a warm welcome by Martelly and his administration as the first president of the Republic of China to visit the Caribbean nation in 58 years of bilateral relations.

At the time, Ma and Martelly inspected the progress and results of plans drawn up in support of Haiti's reconstruction following a deadly earthquake in 2010.

Martelly has been a close friend to Taiwan, and his upcoming visit highlights the strong friendship between the two nations, MOFA said.

It added that the four-day visit will help strengthen bilateral exchanges and cooperation.

The two countries established diplomatic ties on April 25, 1956.

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