President Tsai Ing-wen met on the morning of May 1 with outgoing Kiribati Ambassador to the ROC Teekoa Iuta. In addition to expressing thanks for Kiribati's support for Taiwan, the president also addressed the Dominican Republic's decision to break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
President Tsai stated that five years ago Ambassador Iuta arrived in Taiwan just about this time. She was the first Kiribati ambassador to Taiwan, and opened up a new chapter in the diplomatic friendship between our two countries. Having completed this stage of her journey, Ambassador Iuta will be returning to Kiribati. The president said she was delighted to be at the Presidential Office to bid the ambassador a fond farewell on behalf of the people of Taiwan.
President Tsai specially thanked Ambassador Iuta for her diplomatic contributions over the past five years. During the ambassador's tenure, the president said, the number of government and people-to-people exchanges between Taiwan and Kiribati has increased, and bilateral cooperation has become more intensive.
Commenting on the decision of the Dominican Republic to break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, President Tsai said that to uphold our nation's sovereignty and dignity, Taiwan had announced termination of our diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic that very day. Given the situation, the president said that seeing Ambassador Iuta made us appreciate the support of our diplomatic allies all the more.
President Tsai said that for an island nation like Kiribati, transportation is particularly important. And last year, the president stated, thanks to Ambassador Iuta's efforts, the first Taiwan-made, flat-bottom transport vessel arrived in Kiribati and began service.
Commenting on talent cultivation, President Tsai said that Ambassador Iuta cares about the Kiribati students in Taiwan, and has been their biggest supporter. The ambassador's close cooperation with Mackay Memorial Hospital also ensured that patients from Kiribati who came to Taiwan for treatment received the best possible medical care.
The president pointed out that Ambassador Iuta has been the most senior and experienced ambassador from Taiwan's Pacific allies. And as everyone knows, the ambassador is well-connected and well-respected in Taipei diplomatic circles. With Ambassador Iuta's help, President Tsai said, Taiwan has enjoyed closer relationships and smoother interactions with other ambassadors from Pacific nations. The president then expressed hope that Ambassador Iuta will carry her intimate understanding of Taiwan back to Kiribati, and continue to promote the friendship between the two countries.
President Tsai noted that Taiwan and Kiribati are both Pacific nations. In healthcare, education, and transportation, she said, the two countries will continue to uphold the spirit of steadfast diplomacy based on mutual assistance for mutual benefits, and work toward the UN's Sustainable Development Goals to promote sustainable development in both countries.
In closing, President Tsai wished Ambassador Iuta a safe and pleasant trip home, as she begins the next chapter in her journey. The president also welcomed the ambassador to come back anytime to visit her old friends in Taiwan.