President Ma visits Gambia, boosts bilateral ties
Source： Taiwan Today
Ma, who is on the second leg of a three-nation ROC African ally tour, was greeted by Gambian President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh at Banjul International Airport. He was given the red carpet treatment, including a military honor guard and traditional performances by a troupe of Gambian singers and dancers.
Thousands of well-wishers lining the roads cheered and applauded wildly as the presidential motorcade passed on its way from the airport to Ma’s oceanfront hotel in the capital Banjul. Both presidents smiled broadly and waved enthusiastically to the crowds.
Later at a state banquet hosted by Jammeh, Ma said he was deeply touched by the kindness and warmth shown to him upon his arrival. “The sincerity of this welcome illustrates the strength of relations that exist between our two nations.”
In his address, the president attributed the closeness of bilateral relations to frequent exchanges through cooperation projects and a scholarship program enabling more than 200 Gambian students to study in Taiwan.
Praising Jammeh for his pursuit of national prosperity and regional peace, Ma promised that the ROC government will remain a staunch supporter of The Gambia, providing all necessary assistance to help build a stronger country.
At a hotel breakfast briefing with members of the accompanying Taiwan media contingent the next day, Ma elaborated on his administration’s foreign aid policy.
“Since taking office in May 2008, I have pursued a policy of viable diplomacy that requires all foreign assistance to be just, legal and carried out effectively,” he said.
Citing statistics from the government and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Ma said that in 2010, Taiwan provided US$390 million in international assistance, accounting for 0.1 percent of gross domestic product.
“There is still room for improvement as advanced economies averaged 0.28 percent of GDP in foreign aid expenditure during the same period,” he said, adding that the OECD target is 0.7 percent of GDP.
“As a former recipient of foreign aid, the ROC should give back to the international community when it is capable of doing so,” Ma said. “This will increase the nation’s international profile and benefit foreign relations.”
The president later visited a local farm operated with the support of a Taiwan agricultural technical mission, and attended a food seminar organized by ROC government-backed International Cooperation and Development Fund.
Ma’s African tour, which includes visits to Burkina Faso and Kingdom of Swaziland, wraps up April 18. (JSM)
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