Ma and Gambian president attend military graduations
By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
June 30, 2012, 12:15 am TWN
The China Post--Visiting Gambian President Yahya Jammeh and President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday attended a joint graduation ceremony of Taiwan's military academies in the southern city of Kaohsiung, marking the first time a leader of one of Taiwan's allies has joined such an event.
During the ceremony held at the Republic of China Military Academy, Ma presented Jammeh with a model of a patrol boat that will soon be donated to The Gambia to boost its naval defense.
Ma said during his remarks that he had promised to send three patrol frigates to The Gambia during his state visit to the West African country in April.
"(The donation) shows Taiwan's sincerity in enhancing bilateral military cooperation ... which also symbolizes our long-term and solid friendship," Ma said.
In return, Jammeh expressed gratitude for the warm ties between the two countries and vowed to further increase bilateral exchanges.
Taiwan's foreign ministry announced Thursday that the country will donate three Navy patrol boats to The Gambia to beef up its naval defense capabilities, especially in cracking down on smuggling.
The small, armed patrol boats are being refitted by the Taiwan military before being shipped to Africa. Taiwan made a similar donation in 2009.
Yesterday's graduation ceremony was joined by a total of 1,088 military cadets from the Army, Navy, and Air Force academies, as well as from the National Defense University and National Defense Medical Center. Two of the graduates are exchange military cadets from The Gambia.
During his speech to the graduates, Ma urged all those present to fully devote themselves to the armed forces and serve the country by recognizing military service as a life-long career.
Jammeh arrived June 26 for a five-day state visit, his ninth to Taiwan.