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President Lai and Prime Minister Terrance Drew of Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis hold bilateral talks
President Lai and Prime Minister Terrance Drew of Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis hold bilateral talks

On the morning of June 24, President Lai Ching-te, accompanied by Vice President Bi-khim Hsiao, met with Prime Minister Terrance Drew of the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis for bilateral talks following a welcome ceremony with military honors earlier in the day. President Lai thanked St. Kitts and Nevis for its longstanding support for Taiwan’s international participation and expressed hope that our two countries will continue to strengthen cooperation in such areas as medicine and public health, agricultural technology, and women’s empowerment, jointly building a better future.

A translation of President Lai’s remarks follows:

I would like to begin by thanking Prime Minister Drew for appointing Deputy Prime Minister Geoffrey Hanley and Attorney-General Garth Wilkin to attend my and Vice President Hsiao’s inauguration ceremony here in Taiwan, demonstrating high regard and support for Taiwan.

We are extremely grateful to St. Kitts and Nevis for its longstanding support for Taiwan’s international participation. Last September, Prime Minister Drew spoke up for Taiwan at the United Nations General Assembly. And this year, the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis passed a resolution backing Taiwan’s participation in international organizations. I hope that, in the future, our two countries will continue to support each other on the international stage and jointly address global issues.

Faced with the challenges of the post-pandemic era, I announced last Wednesday the establishment of the Healthy Taiwan Promotion Committee at the Presidential Office to create a healthier Taiwan. We will actively advance the development of public health and medicine in Taiwan, allowing Taiwan to accumulate even more experience and build even stronger capabilities in the medical field, which can be shared with the rest of the world.

Prime Minister Drew, like me, has experience as a medical practitioner. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Drew to advance the development of medicine and public health in both our countries so as to further contribute to the well-being of our peoples.

In addition to medicine and public health, our nations will also continue to strengthen cooperation in such areas as agricultural technology and women’s empowerment. I believe that, through our joint efforts, we will build a better future, together.

Prime Minister Drew then delivered remarks, saying that he was honored and happy to stand alongside President Lai today, who has in a short time become a dear colleague and friend. He said that President Lai’s election marked a new chapter in Taiwan’s history, reflecting the strength and resilience of its democratic processes. He then extended his heartfelt congratulations to President Lai and the Democratic Progressive Party on the recent victory.

Prime Minister Drew said that their presence here today is a testament to the enduring and robust bonds between St. Kitts and Nevis and Taiwan. For over 40 years, he said, our countries have shared a deep and meaningful partnership, built on the principles of democracy, mutual respect, and shared values.

Prime Minister Drew remarked that he is delighted to share with President Lai, who is a physician as well, a recent milestone in our collaboration. On May 7, 2024, he said, they celebrated the signing ceremony for the commencement of the new climate-smart JNF [Joseph Nathaniel France] General Hospital, which will become the flagship hospital in their country. He noted that this initiative marks the inception of a transformative endeavor to establish a comprehensive “health city” in St. Kitts and Nevis and added that their goal is to serve the local populace, neighboring islands, and visitors, redefining healthcare, accessibility, and quality, not only in St. Kitts and Nevis, but in the Caribbean region.

The prime minister said that the collaboration with the Overseas Engineering and Construction Company (OECC), a prominent construction firm headquartered in Taiwan, underscores the deep bonds of cooperation and mutual support between our nations. He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to former President Tsai Ing-wen for her instrumental support in launching this initiative and his confidence that President Lai will guide them to its successful completion.

In addition to healthcare, Prime Minister Drew pointed out, our bilateral engagement has flourished in areas such as education, renewable energy, and technology. He said that Taiwan has generously supported St. Kitts and Nevis in their journey to become a sustainable island state, adding that this collaboration has significantly boosted their capacity to harness solar energy, addressing their needs while aligning with their commitment to environmental sustainability.

Prime Minister Drew said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan’s support was invaluable. The provision of medical supplies, personal protective equipment, and vaccines, he said, greatly aided their national response, ensuring the health and safety of their citizens. In turn, he said, St. Kitts and Nevis has been a steadfast advocate for Taiwan on the global stage, consistently calling for its inclusion in international organizations and fora where Taiwan’s expertise and experience can contribute to global solutions.

Remarking that education and healthcare remain pillars of our bilateral engagement, Prime Minister Drew said that they are grateful for the scholarships and training programs provided by Taiwan, which have enabled many of their young people to pursue higher education and specialized skills. These opportunities are critical to their nation’s development, he said, as they strive to invest in their human capital. He pointed out that their ambassador His Excellency Donya Francis is a graduate of the Taiwanese higher education system, which is witness and testimony to the fact that our bilateral relations have resulted in their improvement in their human capacity.

Prime Minister Drew highlighted that St. Kitts and Nevis supports Taiwan’s inclusion in international fora and recognized Taiwan’s significant contributions to international discourse and its potential to offer solutions to many of the challenges we face today as a global community.

Mentioning that with them is Premier Mark Brantley of their sister island Nevis, part of the federation, but that he is also the leader of the opposition, which is quite rare, Prime Minister Drew said that they are here today to demonstrate their full country support to Taiwan. The prime minister said that we are united by our shared experiences and aspirations and that we look forward to continuing this journey together, fostering growth and prosperity for all of our peoples. 

The delegation also included Prime Minister Drew’s wife Mrs. Diani Jmesha Prince-Drew, Minister of Foreign Affairs Denzil Douglas, and Cabinet Secretary Marcus Natta. The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office by St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador Francis.

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