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September 25, 2017

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Gambian president arrives in Taiwan on first state visit since his re-election

TAIPEI--Gambian President Yahya J.J. Jammeh has arrived in Taiwan on a state visit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

"This is Jammeh's first visit to Taiwan since his re-election," said Steve Hsia, deputy director-general of the ministry's Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, in pointing to the visit's significance.

To mark the occasion, Jammeh was welcomed with full military salute. The military salute ceremony, however, was disrupted briefly as a man broke away from the crowd and attempted to approach the observation deck.

The man, wearing shorts, shouted "President Ma Ying-jeou," before being taken away by police.

According to a national security source who asked not to be named, the Taiwanese man "is believed to be suffering from psychological disorders."

Ma, however, did not seem perturbed as he continued to greet a delegation of Gambian ministers and officials on the observation deck.

Jammeh's state visit is expected to "facilitate the exchange of opinions in terms of international affairs and bilateral development," Ma said in a speech after the 21 gun salute.

Describing Taiwan-The Gambia ties as "close and fruitful," Jammeh said Taiwan is an important "strategic partner" in foreign policy and he is looking forward to more exchanges with the "economic and technological giant."

During his five-day visit, Jammeh will call on several Taiwan officials and is scheduled to host a seminar in Taipei on trade and investment opportunities in The Gambia.

Besides calling on local officials, Jammeh will also host a seminar on trade and investment opportunities in The Gambia on June 27 in Taipei, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It is Jammeh's ninth visit to Taiwan in his 17 years as president of the African country. He called Taiwan his "second hometown."

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