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MOFA express concern to St. Lucia after foreign minister visits Beijing

By Joseph Yeh--The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said it has expressed concern to Taiwan' ally St. Lucia after the Central American nation's foreign minister recently embarked on a tour to China.

MOFA, however, reassured that bilateral ties remain strong and stable and the Beijing tour will not affect mutual diplomatic relations, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday.

“The diplomatic ties between Taiwan and St. Lucia remain solid and all bilateral cooperation projects are going smoothly as scheduled,” MOFA spokesman Steve Hsia said yesterday.

Foreign Minister of St. Lucia Alva Baptiste was visiting China under the capacity as second deputy leader of the country's ruling Labor Party in response to an invitation sent by the Chinese Communist Party, Hsia said, adding that the tour is purely a bipartisan exchange.

MOFA has a full grasp of the situation regarding Baptiste's Beijing visit, the spokesman said, noting that his ministry has expressed concern over the visit to the St. Lucian government.

Hsia made the comments in response to foreign media reports Wednesday that St. Lucia's Prime Minister Kenny Anthony recently disclosed plans for his foreign minister's China tour during a national broadcast.

During his address in St. Lucian Wednesday, Anthony announced that his government will maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, ending months of speculation as to whether it would sever diplomatic ties with Taipei.

The Central American leader, however, said that his St. Lucia Labor Party, which had diplomatic relations with Beijing in the past, would explore a new relationship with China.

To explore opportunities for bipartisan cooperation, Anthony said his party accepted an invitation to send, at the expense of Beijing, a delegation of party officials, led by the Baptiste, to discuss issues of mutual interest to both parties.

St. Lucia first established diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1984 but switched recognition to China in 1997.

In 2007, after 10 years of relations with Beijing, the then-ruling United Workers Party government renewed ties with Taipei.

Anthony, who was elected prime minister in November 2011, had pledged to review diplomatic relations with Taiwan after taking power.

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