New Tuvalu govt reaffirms relations with Taiwan

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Funafuti, Tuvalu, Feb 28 (AFP/APP):Tuvalu’s new government on Wednesday vowed to keep up its “special” relationship with Taiwan, ending speculation that the Pacific island nation was poised to switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

                  “The new government wishes to reaffirm its commitment to the long-term and lasting special relationship between Tuvalu and the Republic of China, Taiwan,” Prime Minister Feleti Teo’s government said in a statement of priorities.

                  Tuvalu, with a population of 11,000, is one of just 12 states that still have formal diplomatic relations with Taipei rather than Beijing.

                  During the election campaign, senior lawmaker Seve Paeniu floated the idea that Tuvalu’s new government could review its Taiwan ties.

                  That set off frenzied speculation about a looming shift in policy, causing the election to be closely watched from the United States to China.

                  Andrew Lin, Taiwan’s ambassador to Tuvalu, tried to end that speculation on Monday, telling AFP he had received assurances from the new government “that the relationship between Taiwan and Tuvalu is firm, rock solid, durable and everlasting”.

                  The new government said that it wanted to “reassess options” to “strengthen and lift” relations with Taiwan to establish a “more durable, lasting, and mutually beneficial relationship”.

                  Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that Deputy Minister Tien Chung-kwang will lead a delegation to Tuvalu “soon”.