The Office of the President held a press conference on the morning of June 14 to announce that President Tsai Ing-wen will lead a delegation on a visit to diplomatic allies Panama and Paraguay from June 24 to July 2. Presidential Office Spokesperson Huang Chung-yen (黃重諺) opened the press conference with introductory remarks, while Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Ching-shan Hou (侯清山) laid out the planned itinerary.
Deputy Minister Hou stated that Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela formally issued an invitation this past March for President Tsai to attend the inauguration ceremony for the Panama Canal Expansion on June 26. Also, while Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes was in Taiwan to attend the May 20 inauguration of Taiwan's new president and vice president, he personally invited President Tsai to visit Paraguay. To demonstrate the importance that Taiwan attaches to international shipping, and to continue enhancing Taiwan's friendly relations with diplomatic allies in Latin America and the Caribbean, President Tsai has scheduled a trip between June 24 and July 2 to attend the inauguration ceremony for the Panama Canal Expansion, and to go on from there to visit Paraguay.
Deputy Minister Hou stated the hope that this first trip by President Tsai after taking office will demonstrate the country's bona fide intention to enhance bilateral relations with its diplomatic allies. As Taiwan's diplomatic allies all hope to strengthen economic, trade, and investment ties with Taiwan, another purpose of this trip is to spur Taiwanese companies to explore investment in diplomatic allies, thereby building up mutually beneficial win-win partnerships with allies. The delegation will include National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Deputy Secretaries-General to the President Liu Chien-sin (劉建忻) and Tseng Hou-jen (曾厚仁), Minister of Foreign Affairs David T. Lee (李大維), and a number of cabinet ministers and legislators. In addition, several business leaders have been specially invited to travel with the delegation and together witness the concrete progress that has been achieved through cooperation between Taiwan and its Latin American diplomatic allies.
Commenting on the itinerary for this trip, Deputy Minister Hou stated that the delegation will use a chartered aircraft for the entire journey. The group is scheduled to depart on the morning of June 24 (Friday), arrive in Panama on the afternoon of June 25, and attend the canal ceremony and other activities on June 26. The delegation will leave Panama on June 27 for a two-day visit in Paraguay before departing on the morning of June 30 and returning to Taiwan on the afternoon of July 2 (Saturday). The trip will last a total of nine days and eight nights, and will include transit stops in the United States on both the outbound and return legs. Further details regarding the transit stops are still being discussed with the United States.
Deputy Minister Hou also mentioned that, in addition to attending the Panama Canal Expansion ceremony, the president will also meet with President Varela to conduct in-depth discussions on bilateral and international issues of shared concern, so as to further enhance diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Panama. The president will also tour the container terminal that Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp. has built in the Port of Colon. In Paraguay, President Tsai will meet with President Cartes, deliver an address before the Paraguayan Congress, and tour Taiwan-Paraguay bilateral cooperation projects. In addition, President Tsai will also host banquets for overseas compatriots as well as Taiwanese diplomats stationed overseas and their family members to show that the government appreciates their importance and cares about their well-being.
Deputy Minister Hou expressed confidence that this visit to diplomatic allies Panama and Paraguay by the president and her delegation will further strengthen Taiwan's friendship with the two countries, and will boost bilateral cooperation and exchanges.