President Chen Shui-bian met with Republic of Kiribati President Anote Tong on the morning of December 24 at the Presidential Office. President Chen, on behalf of the government and people of the ROC (Taiwan), expressed a warm welcome to his counterpart on a third visit to Taiwan.
President Chen first congratulated President Tong on winning the presidency in April of this year, garnering over 60% of the votes cast. President Tong's party also emerged victorious in parliamentary elections, which is a reflection of President Tong's outstanding leadership and his popularity among the people given the achievements of his administration, President Chen said.
President Chen also expressed his gratitude on behalf of the government and 23 million people of Taiwan to Kiribati for its staunch support for Taiwan in the international arena, especially with regards to backing Taiwan's efforts to enter the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization. This year marked the first time that Taiwan applied to enter the UN using the name "Taiwan." The president said that the support provided by Kiribati in the application process was extremely meaningful.
The president also said that global warming in recent years has caused sea levels to rise, threatening the existence of a number of Pacific island nations, including Kiribati. President Chen expressed his concern about the issue and said that at the Second Taiwan-Pacific Allies Summit he advocated the founding of an integrated global organization as soon as possible devoted to the protection of the environment and to environmental-related movements. President Chen said his idea, calling for the establishment of the proposed World Environmental Organization, won the support of heads of state in the region. He said he hopes President Tong will use his influence in the international community to promote the formation of this organization.
The president also noted that last month three young people from Kiribati with cardiac problems came to Taiwan for surgery and related medical care. The president said he is delighted that the procedures have been a success and that it is his pleasure to be the first to give this good news to President Tong.
President Tong expressed his appreciation to President Chen for arranging to meet with him and offered his sincerest gratitude to Taiwan for the wide range of assistance it has provided to his country. President Tong said Taiwan's aid to Kiribati demonstrates the strong friendship and alliance between the two countries, as well as the common values of the two nations. President Tong also expressed his thanks to Taiwan for providing medical assistance to the heart patients from his country. He noted that this is the first time that patients from his country have been sent to a foreign country other than New Zealand for treatment.