Taiwan President Attends Inauguration of Paraguayan President

Text of report in English by Taiwanese Central News Agency website

[By Rachel Chan]

Asuncion, Aug. 15 (CNA) – President Ma Ying-jeou, who is in Paraguay to attend the inauguration of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, was accorded the same high level of respect as other heads of state at the ceremony on Friday morning, and he interacted with some of them.

Ma, who arrived at the inauguration venue around 8:20 a.m. local time, travelled there behind the motorcade of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and ahead of Ecuador President Rafael Correa.

A broadcaster on the local television channel “Tele futuro” introduced Taiwan as having the largest delegation among all countries attending the inauguration. There were more than 25 media groups at the parliamentary square where the ceremony was held.

Ma was escorted to his seat along with other heads of state, and placed between Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and Spanish Crown Prince Felipe with whom he exchanged greetings.

The ceremony commenced with the singing of the Paraguayan national anthem in both Spanish and the local Guarani language.

Lugo began his inauguration speech by thanking the 10 heads of state present for attending the ceremony. The leaders were from Brazil, Chili, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Honduras, Venezuela, Republic of China Taiwan and Spain.

Lugo vowed to do great things for the salvation of Paraguay’s poorest people.

“Paraguay’s era of corruption is going to end, ” Lugo pledged. “I will continue to fulfil the dreams the country had when it was first established.”

“The change in country will be not only in the political leadership, but also in the entire culture,” he added.

Ma listened attentively to the 43-minute speech via an interpreter.

Later at a religious ceremony at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Asuncion, Ma showcased his diplomatic skills by conversing easily with Prince Felipe before the start.

Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop, won a historic victory in Paraguay’s presidential election, ending more than six decades of rule by the central-right Colorado Party.

Dubbed the “bishop of the poor, ” the 56-year-old Lugo vowed to improve the economy of the developing South American nation and to clean up practices that have given Paraguay a reputation as a corrupt country and a safe haven for smugglers.

Lugo retired as a Catholic bishop in December 2006 to sidestep Paraguay’s constitutional ban on the clergy seeking public office.

Lugo had said during his campaign that he would like to establish relations with China if elected, giving rise to speculations that Taiwan might lose its only diplomatic ally in South America to China.

However, after meeting with Ma on Thursday morning, the two vowed to maintain and consolidate bilateral relations.

Ma, who is making his first state visit since he took office May 20, is scheduled to leave Paraguay at 4 p.m. local time for the Dominican Republic to attend the inauguration of President-elect Leonel Fernandez. He will return to Taiwan on Aug. 19.

Originally published by Central News Agency website, Taipei, in English 1551 15 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.



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