(prensa.com)Taiwanese President, Ma Ying-jeou, thanked his Panamanian counterpart, Ricardo Martinelli, yesterday for the support provided in various international arenas, and expressed his hopes for closer ties and bilateral cooperation.
Ma’s words came during the official reception welcoming the president of Panama, which was also attended by the vice-president of Taiwan, Vincent Siew, the mayor of Taipei, Hau Lung-ping, and the diplomatic corps.
After welcoming Martinelli and the accompanying delegation, the Taiwanese president spoke about his visit to Panama in June of last year to attend the inauguration of the Panamanian leader, who spoke about bilateral cooperation.
Ma said Taiwan and Panama have maintained close ties in recent years and hoped that both sides would work to strengthen their friendship and cooperation.
Meanwhile, at the same ceremony, Martinelli compared his country’s friendship with Taiwan as a “brotherhood” and said the Asian nation was “a true friend” of Panama.
Following the official reception, Martinelli and Ma held a meeting at the Presidential Palace, where the two leaders discussed, among other things, cooperation and bilateral ties.
Ma said he was impressed by the economic successes of Panama, observed during his visit in June 2009, and recalled that the Panamanian leader had visited Taiwan 10 years ago when he was a businessman, adding that the current visit by Martinelli symbolizes the close friendship between the two countries.
The Panamanian president, accompanied by Vice-President and Foreign Minister, Juan Carlos Varela, and Vice-Minister of Commerce and Industry, José Domingo Arias arrived in Taiwan on Thursday, as the final stage of an Asian tour.
Martinelli, who is expected to depart from Taiwan on Saturday, is slated to meet with Foreign Minister, Tomothy Yang and the president of the Council of Chinese Affairs, Lai Shin-yuan, among other senior officials.
The government of Taiwan considers this visit by the Panamanian delegation to have symbolic significance, marking the first of its kind in six years.
Meanwhile, Panama has promised to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, while closing in on economic and trade ties with China, the second largest user of the Panama Canal, behind the United States.
The rapprochement between Taipei and Beijing after Ma took office in May 2008, offers a scenario for Panama to maintain ties with both Taipei and Beijing, but Taiwanese officials hope that Panama’s relations with China are only economic and commercial in nature.