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President Lai hosts state banquet for Prime Minister Terrance Drew of Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis
President Lai hosts state banquet for Prime Minister Terrance Drew of Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis

On June 24, President Lai Ching-te, accompanied by Vice President Bi-khim Hsiao, hosted a state luncheon at the Presidential Office in honor of Prime Minister Terrance Drew of the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis and his wife following a welcome ceremony with military honors and bilateral talks. In remarks, President Lai said that Taiwan and St. Kitts and Nevis have enjoyed very close cooperation and exchanges in various areas, and expressed hope that the visit would help further strengthen our cooperative relationship and enduring partnership.

A translation of President Lai’s remarks follows:

I am delighted to welcome Prime Minister Drew, his wife Mrs. Diani Jmesha Prince-Drew, and the delegation to Taiwan with a state banquet at the Presidential Office today. In recent years, Taiwan and St. Kitts and Nevis have enjoyed very close cooperation and exchanges in such areas as infrastructure, agriculture, information and communications technology (ICT), public health and medicine, and education. Moving ahead, I look forward to our two countries building upon these foundations and continuing our efforts to advance the well-being of both our peoples.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Prime Minister Drew and Mrs. Prince-Drew on their recent wedding. It is especially heartwarming to know that Mrs. Prince-Drew is originally from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, another of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the Caribbean. I anticipate that through the meetings and visits we have arranged, Prime Minister Drew and Mrs. Prince-Drew will gain deeper insight into and understanding of Taiwan, helping further strengthen our cooperative relationship as they also enjoy their honeymoon.

Taiwan and St. Kitts and Nevis both have rich agricultural and fishery industries. And today, we have prepared a menu of exquisite cuisine to give our distinguished guests a taste of Taiwan’s renowned food culture. In closing, I wish Prime Minister Drew, Mrs. Prince-Drew, and all the members of the delegation a smooth and successful visit and our two countries an enduring partnership.

Prime Minister Drew then delivered remarks, saying that this state banquet in their honor commemorates not only our enduring friendship, but a celebration of the voice of the people of Taiwan who have elected President Lai to serve at this time. He then extended his heartfelt congratulations to President Lai on his election as the eighth president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), noting that his leadership and the vision of the Democratic Progressive Party promise a bright future for Taiwan. The prime minister also extended congratulations and best wishes to President Lai’s predecessor, former President Tsai Ing-wen. Under her stewardship, he said, Taiwan experienced remarkable economic and social development, navigating through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and other external issues with resilience and fortitude.

Prime Minister Drew said that as he reflected on his first visit to Taiwan back in November of 2022, he recalled standing here as a single man. Today, he said, he is proud to share this pivotal and significant state visit with his wife, Mrs. Prince-Drew, whom he married in February of this year. Prime Minister Drew said that their personal journey mirrors the deepening of the bonds between our two nations, and that it is a joy to experience this moment together.

The prime minister stated that St. Kitts and Nevis continues to place a high value on its bilateral relationship with the Republic of China (Taiwan). Our diplomatic relations, he said, established shortly after St. Kitts and Nevis gained independence from Great Britain in 1983, represent over 40 years of solid, meaningful engagement buttressed by tangible and practical cooperation. He said that our relationship is truly special, founded on shared values of democracy, good governance, human rights, and the rule of law, which have a rich legacy of cooperation, and they are committed to maintaining and strengthening these ties.

Prime Minister Drew then reassured President Lai of his government’s firm commitment to further strengthening the bonds of friendship which we have worked so hard to build over the past four decades. As island nations, he said, our shared experiences and mutual understanding foster a unique and enduring friendship. The prime minister said they shall continue to lend their voice to the clarion call to the international community for Taiwan to be included in international fora, to help to find solutions to the myriad of challenges which confront us as we strive to achieve our development objectives.

The prime minister said that the day’s bilateral engagement highlighted several pillars on which to build their economy into the next decade and beyond. He said they shall continue to invest in human capital, their main resource, and focus on food security through agricultural diversification and on building their healthcare infrastructure, recognizing that a nation’s health correlates with its wealth. Moreover, Prime Minister Drew said, their development thrust will be underpinned by principles that ensure environmental sustainability, as there is little value in pursuing their development objectives while engaging in actions that endanger our environment and our very survival.

Prime Minister Drew stated that in line with their vision to transform St. Kitts and Nevis into a Sustainable Island State, Taiwan’s support and collaboration have been and will continue to be instrumental. Taiwan’s contributions towards St. Kitts and Nevis’s initiatives in renewable energy, technological innovation, and sustainable agriculture, he said, are helping them pave the way towards a more sustainable and prosperous future. Prime Minister Drew closed his remarks by saying that it would be an honor for him to invite President Lai to lead a delegation to St. Kitts and Nevis in the not-too-distant future, and help them open up their new climate-smart JNF (Joseph Nathaniel France) General Hospital.

St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador Donya Francis was also in attendance at the banquet.

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