President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation led by Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga and Mrs. Sopoaga on the morning of May 3 at the Office of the President. President Tsai and Prime Minister Sopoaga jointly witnessed the signing of an agreement between Taiwan and Tuvalu concerning seafarers' training and certification, under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978, by both sides' transportation ministers. The president also expressed hope that the two countries will strengthen all-around cooperation and enhance the well-being of people in both countries.
In remarks, President Tsai began by welcoming Prime Minister Sopoaga and Mrs. Sopoaga to the Office of the President, stating that this is Prime Minister Sopoaga's 16th visit to Taiwan. President Tsai recalled that when she visited Tuvalu in 2017, her delegation received a warm welcome from the government and people of Tuvalu. She trusted that during his visit to Taiwan this time, the prime minister will experience the warmth of the Taiwanese people as well.
Since taking office, President Tsai pointed out, Prime Minister Sopoaga has been committed to national development, while actively responding to the challenges of climate change. Taiwan is also actively working to implement the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, the president said, and we would be happy to share our experiences with the world.
Of course, President Tsai stated, Taiwan can contribute so much more to the international community in various areas. She thanked Prime Minister Sopoaga and the Tuvaluan government for firmly supporting Taiwan's international participation. In particular, this April the Tuvalu government wrote a letter to the Director-General of the World Health Organization requesting that Taiwan be invited to this year's World Health Assembly.
The president stated that Tuvalu's staunch support for Taiwan's right to international participation is a testament to our countries' strong friendship, and gives us the strength to persevere. Taiwan can help, she emphasized, and we are more than willing to do our part to improve global welfare.
Mentioning that this year marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Tuvalu, President Tsai noted that our cooperation in many different fields continues to grow closer. Our technical mission's collaborative farms are bringing fresh produce to Tuvaluan citizens and promoting healthy lifestyles. And our various cooperative programs, including Tuvaluan students studying in Taiwan, talent development, and vocational training, are consistently popular.
This year, the president stated, we are further expanding our cooperation with Tuvalu and other allies with the introduction of the Taiwan Digital Opportunity Center (TDOC). This center will provide more opportunities for bilateral exchanges, and cultivate Tuvalu's next-generation tech talents. These are all perfect examples of mutually beneficial steadfast diplomacy. In closing, President Tsai welcomed Prime Minister Sopoaga and Mrs. Sopoaga to Taiwan once again and expressed hope for the continued growth of our bilateral friendship, so that we can create a better future together.
In his remarks that followed, Prime Minister Sopoaga stated that he was delighted to be in Taiwan once again, and that his delegation's visit to Taiwan would allow them to pay witness to Taiwan's progress and development, while also representing the Tuvaluan people and government's strong support for Taiwan. He praised President Tsai for her leadership, and mentioned President Tsai's commitment to creating a better Taiwan, stating that he had personally witnessed Taiwan's impressive achievements on both bilateral and international issues. The people of Tuvalu are very proud of their friendly relationship with Taiwan, he said, and he thanked Taiwan for reminding his delegation of their duty to better the lives of their people.
Finally, Prime Minister Sopoaga thanked Taiwan for supporting Tuvaluan education, allowing Tuvaluan students to excel in medical, technological, and scientific fields. He then expressed hope for the continued strengthening of Taiwan-Tuvalu relations.
After the meeting, President Tsai and Prime Minister Sopoaga jointly witnessed the signing of an agreement regarding seafarers' training and certification by Taiwan Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and Tuvaluan Minister for Communications and Transport Monise Laafai. This agreement, based on the diplomatic friendship between Taiwan and Tuvalu, will allow Taiwanese seafarers' training and certification to be recognized in Tuvalu, offering more future employment opportunities.
Following the completion of the signing ceremony, the two heads of state, and Foreign and Transportation Ministers raised their glasses in a toast to successful bilateral cooperation.
Guests included Tuvalu Minister of Foreign Affairs Taukelina Finikaso and his wife, Minister for Natural Resources and Lands Puakena Boreham, Member of the Parliament MacKenzie Kiritome, and Ambassador to Taiwan Limasene Teatu and her husband.