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President Tsai meets Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare
President Tsai meets Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare

During a meeting on the morning of July 25 with a delegation led by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and his wife, President Tsai Ing-wen briefed her visitors on the state of bilateral ties between Taiwan and the Solomon Islands, and expressed hope that the two countries can continue to enhance their relationship and maintain a lasting alliance.

In remarks, President Tsai noted that Prime Minister Sogavare and his wife have been to Taiwan several times before, having last visited nine years ago. The fact that they have once again led a delegation of heavyweight parliamentarians and cabinet members to Taiwan this year (2016) shows the importance that Prime Minister Sogavare and the government of the Solomon Islands attach to Taiwan, and the depth of their friendship with our country.

The president took the opportunity to thank Prime Minister Sogavare for the letter of congratulations he sent upon her election as president, and Governor General Frank Kabui for making a special trip to attend her May 20 inaugural ceremony. Such gestures, she said, are clear indications of the strong friendship between the two countries.

President Tsai noted that since his election for a third time as prime minister in late 2014, Mr. Sogavare has enjoyed strong support in parliament. In addition to his efforts to stimulate the economy, he has successfully obtained passage of land reform legislation and a Family Protection Act. He has demonstrated outstanding leadership abilities, and brought renewed vigor to the Solomon Islands.

President Tsai further pointed out that Prime Minister Sogavare is very concerned about important international issues, including freedom and democracy, the protection of human rights, climate change, and peace and stability. These are mainstream values to which Taiwan and the Solomon Islands have a shared commitment, and which form a cornerstone of their bilateral friendship. The president thanked the Solomon Islands for its steadfast and long-term support for Taiwan in the international community, where it has spoken up on our behalf on many occasions.

Commenting on friendship and exchanges between Taiwan and the Solomon Islands, President Tsai noted that the two countries have had a deep friendship for 33 years. As Prime Minister Sogavare has said, Taiwan has been a valuable partner to the Solomon Islands in the good times, and a true friend in the difficult times. For many years now, Taiwan has provided the Solomon Islands with needed assistance in such areas as rural development, agriculture, public health, and human resources, and successes achieved to date have been widely praised in the Solomons. Hopefully, said the president, the two countries can take active measures to reap maximum benefit from economic cooperation and spur industrial cooperation.

President Tsai also noted that delegation member Joseph Waleanisia, who currently serves as Secretary to the Prime Minister, will soon be taking over as ambassador to the ROC (Taiwan). In his new position, she said, he will undoubtedly help to strengthen cooperative ties in such areas as the economy, trade, and culture. In addition to welcoming Mr. Waleanisia to his new post, the president also voiced hope that cooperation between the two countries will become closer and more diverse in the future.

Prime Minister Sogavare then followed with remarks of his own, recalling that during his first visit to Taiwan the Solomon Islands was experiencing difficulties, but Taiwan lent its full support, for which the government and people of the Solomon Islands remain very grateful. Taiwan and the Solomon Islands, he said, have a shared set of core values, and the Solomon Islands will continue to speak actively on Taiwan's behalf at important international venues. The prime minister noted that he strongly hopes for continued enhancement of bilateral relations and cooperation.

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