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  • President Ma delivers public remarks on plane during trip to visit African allies
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President Ma Ying-jeou delivers public remarks on plane during trip to visit African allies. President Ma delivers public remarks on plane during trip to visit African allies.
President Ma Ying-jeou in the wee hours of April 8 delivered remarks on the plane taking him and a delegation from the ROC to visit the African allies of Burkina Faso, Republic of The Gambia and Kingdom of Swaziland.

Shortly after midnight, the president commented that the first stop on this trip will be Burkina Faso. On the way, however, the plane carrying the president and his delegation will make a stop in Mumbai, India for refueling. With the understanding of the Indian government, he said, the announcement of the refueling stop was made after the plane took off. President Ma explained that given the diplomatic challenges facing the ROC, any action of this sort should only be done after mutual trust has been established. In fact, he said, the announcement of the planned refueling stop in India was made slightly earlier than originally intended, and this adjustment to the timing of the announcement was also made with the understanding of the Indian side. President Ma said that the matter had to be handled like this if there could be a second such stopover in the future.

The president explained that since taking office he has transited the United States 10 times. In each instance, he said, stopovers have been made under the principle of "low key, no surprises." This shows that in its conduct of viable diplomacy, the government will proceed with caution and make sure that mutual trust is achieved between the parties involved. This is the only way to ensure that bilateral relationships will continue to move forward, he said.

President Ma stated that the plane carrying him and his delegation will make a refueling stop in Mumbai on the way to Africa, while stopping off in Dubai on the return for refueling. These destinations were decided based on his flight route, he said, adding that the refueling is only a technical issue. There will be no other activities held during these stops, the president said, furthermore specially expressing his appreciation to the governments of India, the United Arab Emirates, and Dubai for the convenience provided. The president said that in making the preparations for this journey, the ROC government also obtained the consent of other countries to allow the chartered plane from Taiwan to land in their territory. President Ma said that he deeply appreciates the efforts and achievements of colleagues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this regard.

The president mentioned that this marks his first visit to Africa since taking office, and that the trip will take him across the African continent. He will have an opportunity to fly over and see the beauty of the Sahara Desert and the East African savannah, he said. The trip is being made in a China Airlines Airbus A330-300, which will fly over 30,000 kilometers. The president expressed his gratitude to the crew of the airplane for their hard work.

President Ma noted that Burkina Faso is a francophone country and is the most populous of the ROC's allies. Burkina Faso covers an area of over 200,000 square kilometers. The Gambia and Swaziland are both English-speaking nations, he said. The Gambia has a population of about 1.8 million people, while Swaziland's population is about one million. The most important aspect of interaction between the ROC and its African allies is the sharing of Taiwan's development experience with them, he said. Taiwan's agricultural technical teams have provided assistance to Africa for over 50 years and have much to show for their work, he stated. Meanwhile, the "Light from Taiwan" project, which was originally called the "Light for Africa" project, uses solar power and LED lights to enable the public in allied and friendly countries to have light in the evening hours, he said. The project is presently also being extended to allies in the Pacific and Latin America, the president said.

The president stressed that this trip to Africa will help to solidify alliances with our friends there and that it will have enormous benefits with regard to the government's overall viable diplomacy policy. He said he hopes that the meetings with the heads of state of the three allies will take bilateral relations with each to new heights.
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