On the afternoon of November 6, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation led by Kiribati House of Assembly Speaker Tebuai Uaai and Mrs. Uaai. During the meeting, President Tsai called for further enhancement of bilateral relations and a joint effort to address the challenge of global climate change to spur sustainable development in both countries.
In remarks, President Tsai stated that Kiribati is a loyal ally that always speaks out in support of Taiwan in international venues. At the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly in September of 2016 and again of 2017, for example, President Taneti Maamau spoke out on Taiwan's behalf. The government and people of Taiwan, she said, are very thankful for such gestures, and deeply cherish this friendship.
President Tsai pointed out that since official diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Kiribati were established 14 years ago, our two countries have carried out more than 100 cooperation projects in public health, technical cooperation in agriculture and fisheries, education and training, and clean energy with much success. We cooperate especially closely in the area of education and training, said the president, noting that the Taiwan Scholarship Program and I-Shou University's School of Medicine for International Students promote bilateral exchanges among young people and help Kiribati cultivate talent. When young students from Kiribati finish their studies in Taiwan and return home, they serve as a bridge of friendship that links our two countries. Noting that from 2018 forward there will be an additional 18 higher education scholarships for Taiwan's six Pacific allies under the Taiwan Scholarship Program, the president encouraged more young people in Kiribati to apply.
President Tsai noted that she recently visited three of Taiwan's Pacific allies, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands which, like Kiribati, are Pacific island nations. All maritime nations, she said, should band together to address the challenges of global climate change so that no island in the Pacific is isolated. "We're all in the same boat," she said.
The president stressed that Taiwan is willing to work with its Pacific allies to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We also look forward, she added, to further enhancing cooperation with Kiribati to address challenges and pursue sustainable development in both countries. Kiribati has always been Taiwan's indispensable friend, so the president expressed hope that the two countries will continue to support each other and move forward together.
Guests meeting with President Tsai also included Kiribati Ambassador to the ROC Teekoa Iuta.