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Gov't to further assist with Haiti rice production

TAIPEI -- Taiwan and Haiti signed an agreement yesterday that will see Taiwan provide further assistance in increasing rice production in the Caribbean country to address food security issues.

The agreement was signed by Taiwan's Foreign Minister David Lin and Haitian counterpart Duly Brutus, one of several top officials from Haiti who are visiting Taiwan as part of a delegation led by President Michel Joseph Martelly.

After the signing of the agreement, both countries formally launched a 2014-2018 program, which includes Taiwanese technical assistance to set up a national rice research center, Lin said during the signing ceremony at the ministry's headquarters in Taipei.

He expressed happiness over the signing of the agreement, which he said “will help address the food security issues in Haiti and also deepen the relationship between the two countries.”

The program is expected to improve rice production to 2,000 tons per year, which the ministry estimates will benefit around 51,000 families in the major rice-growing center of Vallee d'Artibonite.

Lin also represented President Ma Ying-jeou to bestow the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon on Brutus to recognize his efforts in bilateral ties over the years.

Brutus said he was honored to receive the award, and he expressed hope that the two countries will continue to deepen cooperation.

He also decorated Lin with a medal recognizing his efforts to advance ties with Haiti.

Agriculture has been an important part of the cooperation between Taiwan and Haiti. The foreign ministry noted that the new program is part of continued efforts to increase rice production by improving the quality of rice seeds.

Earlier in the day, President Ma met with his Haitian counterpart, where the two leaders signed a joint communique aimed at promoting bilateral ties. Ma is scheduled to host a state dinner later in the day.

The Haitian delegation is set to wrap up their four-day visit Thursday.

The visit follows a trip to Haiti by Ma last August. Ma is the first Taiwanese president to make a state visit to the Caribbean nation in their 58 years of bilateral relations.

It has been 12 years since a Haitian president visited Taiwan, according to the foreign ministry. The last was Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2002, when he paid a visit to Taiwan's then President Chen Shui-bian.

Haiti is one of Taiwan's 22 diplomatic allies. The two countries established diplomatic ties in 1956.

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 Ma has not ruled out possibility of visiting Lin Yi-hsiung: groups 
President Ma Ying-jeou shakes hands with Haiti President Michel Joseph Martelly during a state banquet to honor the latter's delegation. Taiwan and Haiti signed an agreement yesterday that will see Taiwan provide further assistance in increasing rice production in the Caribbean country to address food security issues. (CNA)

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