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Taiwan sends officials to Gambia to communicate on ties

Nov 18, 2013, 9:12 AM

Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent officials “of an appropriate level” to The Gambia for direct communication, after President Yahya Jammeh said the west African country was severing ties with Taiwan, sources said Saturday.

The officials departed Friday include technical personnel who have become close with President Jammeh in cooperation projects and Richard R. C. Shih, director of the ministry’s Department of Protocol.

The ministry is continuing to conduct “more direct and frank” communication with The Gambia, to avoid misunderstanding, sources said.

Shih served as ambassador in The Gambia between 2008 and 2011.

Foreign Minister David Lin was low-key about sending officials to The Gambia, saying that the ministry will brief the public after the officials arrive in Banjul, the capital.

Jammeh’s office issued a statement Thursday saying that The Gambia’s government will cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan with immediate effect.

“This decision has been taken in our strategic national interests,” the statement said.

The Presidential Office said that President Ma Ying-jeou is in close contacts with related agencies to keep abreast of the latest development.

Jammeh’s statement came as a surprise to many in Taiwan. Relations between the two countries have been warm over the past year, with Jammeh speaking on Taiwan’s behalf during the United Nations general assembly in September.

In October, Gambian Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy visited Taiwan to attend the ROC National Day celebrations.

Meanwhile, the seven ongoing joint projects between Taiwan and The Gambia will proceed as planned despite the western African country’s abrupt cutting of diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Saturday.

Taiwan will continue to assist The Gambia in agriculture, education and women’s health, according to ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao.

Source: Agencies