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President Tsai meets King Mswati III of Swaziland, attends state banquet

President Tsai Ing-wen, on a state visit codenamed "Taiwan and Swaziland: Enduring Partners," met King Mswati III of Swaziland at the royal palace on the evening of Tuesday, April 17 local time.


The main purpose of President Tsai's trip is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Swaziland's independence and King Mswati III's 50th birthday. Following Swazi custom, Taiwan prepared five heads of cattle as a birthday gift for the king. When the president arrived, the king personally welcomed her at the main entrance to Mandvulo Grand Hall, and showed the president the cattle that Taiwan had given him.


The president and King Mswati III then held wide-ranging discussions on issues of mutual interest including the international situation, current bilateral relations and future prospects, and initiatives to strengthen bilateral cooperation.


After the talks, King Mswati III awarded President Tsai the "Order of the Elephant," Swaziland's highest honor for a foreign head of state, commending the president's outstanding leadership and contributions to the diplomatic partnership and cooperation between Taiwan and Swaziland.


In his remarks, King Mswati III offered the president and her delegation a warm welcome to Swaziland. In addition to the 50th anniversary of Swaziland's independence and the king's 50th birthday, 2018 also marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Swaziland. The king pointed out that relations between the two countries are stable and firm, thanked Taiwan for its assistance to Swaziland, and expressed hope that the two sides will continue to strengthen bilateral cooperation based on mutual benefits.


In her remarks, President Tsai said this was her first state visit to Swaziland. She thanked King Mswati III for the invitation and the decoration he bestowed on her, and said she believes these gestures symbolize the genuine friendship between Swaziland and Taiwan.


The president emphasized that the king has visited Taiwan 16 times, including leading a delegation to attend her inauguration ceremony, and has spoken up on Taiwan's behalf at many international venues. She then expressed heartfelt gratitude to the king on behalf of the people of Taiwan.


President Tsai noted that this trip was dedicated to building an "enduring partnership" under the theme "Taiwan and Swaziland: Enduring Partners." She said she was pleased to visit Swaziland during this special year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the independence of Swaziland and the king's 50th birthday.


The president also pointed out that for Taiwan this is also an important year, marking the 50th anniversary of Taiwan-Swaziland diplomatic relations. These 50 years of trust and mutual assistance, she said, inspire confidence that cooperation, mutual benefits, and mutual trust between Taiwan and Swaziland will continue for a long time to come.


President Tsai stated that Taiwan and Swaziland can strengthen their partnership in two ways. The first is by broadening technical exchanges. On this trip, she said, she will visit Taiwan's medical and technical missions in Swaziland. Those missions have received positive feedback for their accomplishments in Swaziland, and she expressed hope that the two countries can build on their existing cooperation by finding areas that can be improved and even better cooperative projects.


The president went on to say that the second way to strengthen the bilateral partnership is to act on the principle of "mutual assistance for mutual benefits" by deepening cooperation across the board. She said that by collaborating in the field of education, Taiwan wants to attract Swazi students to study for professional degrees in Taiwan. At the same time, Taiwan also hopes to develop long-term partnerships with local schools in Swaziland to develop more personnel with fundamental skills. By working together, both countries can then contribute more to bilateral cooperation and national development.


Commenting on economic and trade ties, the president said Taiwan can see that the African market has tremendous potential, and more Taiwanese companies should take advantage of the international opportunities here. Because Swaziland is an English-speaking country, it can be an important base of operations to develop the African market for Taiwan companies now planning to expand their global reach.


The president added that Taiwan had prepared a special gift for the king, a shield from the Puyuma tribe village of Tamalrakaw, a symbol of stout mutual support.


In closing, President Tsai wished the best of health to King Mswati III and the Queen Mother, and the continued prosperity of the Kingdom of Swaziland. The president declared that Taiwan and Swaziland would enjoy an "enduring partnership," and concluded by saying "Siyabonga Kakhulu," or "thank you" in the Swazi language.


The two heads of state then signed a joint communique affirming their commitment to working together closely and continue to enhance bilateral cooperation and exchanges in fields like public health, trade and investment, vocational training, education, employment for women, agriculture, and tourism for the well-being of people in both countries.


That evening, King Mswati III hosted a state banquet for President Tsai. Banquet attendees included Swaziland officials: Deputy Prime Minister (Acting Prime Minister) Paul Dlamini, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mgwagwa Gamedze, and Minister of Economic Planning and Development Prince Hlangusemphi of Swaziland; and Taiwan officials: National Security Council Secretary-General David T. Lee (李大維), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥), and ROC Ambassador to Swaziland Thomas J.C. Chen (陳經銓).