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June 29, 2017

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MOFA to offer transportation service to foreign envoys

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has promised to offer transportation service to ambassadors posted in Taiwan who do not have official vehicles when they are invited to attend events and ceremonies organized by the R.O.C. government.

The ministry made the promise in a proposed MOFA budget for 2015 sent to the Legislative Yuan earlier this week pending review.

The pledge was made amid criticism targeting the ministry over an incident last year.

During a ceremony welcoming visiting Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on June 18, 2013, Ambassador Minute Alapati Taupo of Taiwan's Pacific Island ally Tuvalu was spotted by local media attending the ceremony by taking a taxi instead of an official embassy vehicle.

Local media reported later exposed that MOFA had reportedly denied a request to send an official vehicle to transport the ambassador to the ceremony venue.

Ambassador Taupo later explained that he had just arrived in Taiwan and had yet to be given an official vehicle from his home country. He also said he would not mind taking a taxi, according to reports.

The incident drew heavy fire from lawmakers who accused the ministry of embarrassing the ambassador by not sending a car for the special occasion.

The Legislative Yuan's National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee later passed a non-bidding resolution to ask the ministry to offer transportation service to foreign ambassadors if they do not have official vehicles when attending events and ceremonies.

In the wake of the resolution, the ministry promptly passed an amendment last July that stipulates the ministry will be responsible for giving foreign ambassadors, who have been posted to Taiwan less than six months and have yet to be given official vehicles, a ride when they are invited to attend military ceremonies and events organized by the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan.

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