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President Ma meets Swaziland Deputy Prime Minister Themba N. Masuku

President Ma Ying-jeou met with Kingdom of Swaziland Deputy Prime Minister Themba N. Masuku and Mrs. Masuku at the Presidential Office on the evening of April 28. The president extended a warm welcome and appreciation to the visitors on their trip to Taiwan on behalf of the government and people of the ROC.

The president commented that Deputy Prime Minister Masuku emerged 20 years ago as one of Swaziland's leading agricultural economists. He served as Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Liaison Office in Geneva and then in New York, and he has a comprehensive understanding of international agricultural cooperation and international affairs, the president said. This marks Deputy Prime Minister Masuku's fourth visit to Taiwan, and first since being appointed to his current position in 2008 by King Mswati III, President Ma said.

The president noted that the Kingdom of Swaziland achieved independence on September 6, 1968. At the time, former President Chiang Kai-shek sent a congratulatory telegram to King Sobhuza II and also dispatched then Deputy Foreign Minister Yang Hsi-kun as his special envoy to attend celebrations marking the country's independence, and to sign a communiqué establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. Two days later, the ROC and other members of the United Nations Security Council recommended that Swaziland become a member of the UN. The president said that this episode is an important page in the history of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

President Ma furthermore said that former President Lee Teng-hui and former President Chen Shui-bian made two visits each to Swaziland. In addition, Vice President Vincent C. Siew represented him in September 2008 in attending celebrations in Swaziland marking that nation's 40th anniversary of independence and the 40th birthday of King Mswati III. President Ma said King Mswati III has visited Taiwan 11 times, with the most recent being in 2008 to attend the inauguration ceremonies for himself and Vice President Siew. The Queen Mother in March of this year visited Taiwan for the fifth time, he added, and while here received a health check-up at Taipei Medical University. These frequent contacts demonstrate the close ties and friendship between the two nations, he said.

President Ma also expressed his appreciation to Swaziland for supporting the ROC's participation in UN-affiliated institutions. Swaziland, he said, supported the ROC's participation in the World Health Assembly in May of last year, and also called for the ROC's participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Civil Aviation Organization. The president said that the people of the ROC will remember these gestures. He added that cooperative relations have been extremely close, with projects carried out in a variety of fields, including medicine and agriculture. The president said he hopes that cooperative ties can continue to develop further.

The president said that he has a very special relationship with Swaziland. He commented that 10 years ago he began providing assistance to a little girl in Swaziland whose name is Maphalala. Two years ago Maphalala visited Taiwan and the two had an opportunity to meet. He said that of the children he has provided financial assistance to around the world, he has had the longest relationship with Maphalala. President Ma specially stated that he will assist Maphalala in completing her college education.

Lastly, President Ma expressed his hopes that Deputy Prime Minister Masuku's stay in Taiwan will be a pleasurable one. He said he is confident that the visit will be beneficial to bilateral relations.

Deputy Prime Minister Masuku and Mrs. Masuku were accompanied to the Presidential Office in the evening by Foreign Minister Timothy Chin-tien Yang. Also sitting in on the meeting was National Security Council Advisor Mignonne M. J. Chan.

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