President Tsai Ing-wen met on the morning of May 21 with Palau President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., Republic of the Marshall Islands President Hilda C. Heine, Republic of El Salvador Minister of Foreign Affairs Hugo Roger Martinez Bonilla, Swaziland's King Mswati III, Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga, and St. Christopher and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Harris. President Tsai extended a warm welcome to all of her guests and thanked them for coming to Taiwan to attend the inaugural activities for our 14th-term president and vice president.
At her meeting with Palau President Remengesau and his wife, President Tsai lauded President Remengesau as a renowned statesman in the Pacific region. Under his outstanding leadership, Palau has undertaken major construction projects. Palau, President Tsai noted, has also devoted extensive efforts to promoting marine conservation and sustainable development in the Western Micronesia eco-region where it is located, and their accomplishments have been widely acclaimed. Examples include the Micronesia Center for Sustainable Future (MCSF) and the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS), both key projects promoted by President Remengesau's administration. Given that Taiwan and Palau are both surrounded by ocean, President Tsai remarked that marine conservation is also extremely important for our country, and that she looks forward to working hand-in-hand with Palau on this important issue.
President Tsai went on to say that Taiwan and Palau are not far from each other geographically. She noted that our national airlines, China Airlines and TransAsia Airways, both have regularly scheduled direct flights, and flying from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to Palau only takes about four hours, making travel between the two countries highly convenient. Such favorable conditions are all the more reason for the two countries to strengthen cooperation on all fronts, including economics and trade.
President Tsai then recalled that Palau suffered a serious drought at the beginning of this year, leading to a water crisis. Upon receiving news of the disaster, the Taiwan government swiftly dispatched aid in the form of monetary donations and air shipments of drinking water to help Palau respond to the drought. Taiwan has also faced natural disasters and water shortages, the president said, so we fully understand the serious consequences they can inflict on a country's agricultural industries and overall economy. Besides offering empathy, Taiwan has provided various forms of aid within our capabilities. The president noted that thankfully, the drought has now receded in Palau and its water supply has returned to normal; we look forward to Palau's tourism and economic development also returning to normal as quickly as possible.
President Tsai noted in her meeting with Marshall Islands President Heine that Ms. Heine is no stranger to Taiwan. While serving as the Marshall Islands' minister of education, she visited our country in June of 2014 at the invitation of the Taiwan government – evidence of our close bilateral relationship marked by frequent interactions between high-level government officials.
President Tsai pointed out that Taiwan and the Marshall Islands are actively cooperating in areas such as cultivating talent. Over the years, many Marshall Islands students have come to Taiwan to study and participate in training and research activities, yielding outstanding results. The president said that Taiwan will continue to deepen its cooperation with the Marshall Islands in education and other areas. She hopes that both countries will continue to uphold the spirit of mutual benefit and strengthen substantive bilateral cooperation, so as to realize our shared aspirations for co-prosperity.
In her meeting with El Salvador Minister of Foreign Affairs Martinez Bonilla, President Tsai noted that it has been over 80 years since Taiwan and El Salvador first established diplomatic relations in 1933, creating an alliance marked by sincere friendship. Current El Salvador President Salvador Sanchez Ceren took office in June of 2014, and four months later dispatched Mr. Martinez Bonilla to visit Taiwan. During that visit, a letter of intent on bilateral cooperation was signed, cementing a five-year plan for cooperative projects, all of which are currently running smoothly and yielding significant achievements.
President Tsai expressed sincere thanks for the long-term and staunch support that successive Salvadoran governments have given for Taiwan's participation in international organizations and activities, and especially for inviting Taiwan's minister of foreign affairs to take part in the Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracy. She also reaffirmed our government's willingness to spare no effort to strengthen bilateral cooperation, and our hope that Mr. Martinez Bonilla will continue to support Taiwan in international occasions. The president then asked Mr. Martinez Bonilla to extend best wishes to El Salvador President Sanchez Ceren on her behalf.
President Tsai, at her meeting with King Mswati III of Swaziland, said that April of this year saw both a commemoration marking Swaziland's 48th anniversary as an independent nation and King Mswati III's 48th birthday. Likewise, diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Swaziland, established in 1968, are already in their 48th year. Our two countries, she stated, have a longstanding and stable friendship, and she has high hopes that this cooperative bilateral relationship will continue to advance in all areas.
During her meeting with Tuvalu Prime Minister Sopoaga, President Tsai noted that this trip marked his 13th visit to Taiwan, reflecting the deep friendship between our two countries. The prime minister is also concurrently serving as chairperson of the Smaller Island States (SIS), an important organization under the framework of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Taiwan, said the president, has participated in PIF meetings for many years, and hopes that bilateral cooperation and exchanges with Tuvalu will continue to grow. President Tsai also expressed sincere gratitude for Tuvalu's support for Taiwan at successive meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The president then met with St. Christopher and Nevis Prime Minister Harris. She noted that Prime Minister Harris is an old friend, this being his tenth visit to Taiwan, and that since diplomatic ties were established, our two countries have enjoyed a stable alliance and deep friendship.
President Tsai also noted that on the 22nd of this month, Prime Minister Harris and his delegation will be heading to the Penghu Islands to inspect the tourism industry on Taiwan's offshore islands. Taiwan authorities have already made the relevant arrangements for their visit. The president is sure that the warmth and friendliness of Taiwanese people and our culture will make a deep impression on Prime Minister Harris. President Tsai then thanked St. Christopher and Nevis for speaking out on Taiwan's behalf at UN activities and in UN organizations for many years. She expressed hope that St. Christopher and Nevis will continue to support Taiwan, and step up exchanges and cooperation in the fields of tourism and education.