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ROC envoy has meeting with Sao Tome president

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's ambassador to Sao Tome and Principe recently had a meeting with Sao Tome's president, during which the two sides touched on issues surrounding the leader's possible trip to Taiwan and his recently concluded China tour, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

David Wang, (王建業) head of MOFA's Department of West Asian and African Affairs, yesterday said that Jack Cheng (程豫台) met President Manuel Pinto da Costa on July 20 after the latter returned from an African Union conference.

During the meeting, Cheng and President Pinto da Costa discussed the possible timing of a visit to Taiwan by the ally, Wang said.

According to Wang, due to a congressional election to be held by the end of this year, the Sao Tomean president is unlikely to visit the R.O.C. in 2014.

“It is more likely that President Pinto da Costa could visit Taiwan in the first half of 2015 if he ultimately decides to embark on the trip,” Wang added.

During the meeting, the two sides also discussed the ally leader's visit to China, the MOFA official said.

However, Wang would not disclose the details of the discussion.

The Sao Tomean side has insisted that their president's China tour was done for business instead of political reasons, Wang noted.

President Pinto da Costa departed from his country on June 6 to China and Portugal as part of the visit. He visited both Shanghai and Beijing during a weeklong private stay in China before flying to Portugal for another two weeks of private business, according to foreign media reports.

Chinese authorities last month also confirmed the visit but did not disclose a more specific itinerary for the African leader.

According to MOFA, President Pinto da Costa told Taiwan's embassy that the trip was meant to attract Chinese investment in a construction project on a deepwater port in Sao Tome and Principe, adding that the visit will not harm bilateral ties between the R.O.C. and his country, according to MOFA.

He also promised that he will be leading a delegation on a state visit to Taiwan before the end of this year or early in 2015 in a concrete move to solidify ties, MOFA said.

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