31 Jan 2005

Taiwan leader leads 68 member delegation on first ever visit to Solomon Islands

4:56 pm on 31 January 2005

An historic visit to Solomon Islands by the Taiwan president Chen Shui Bian has ended with the sigining of a joint communique between the two countries.

Mr Chen had been in the Solomons for three days inspecting Taiwan's aid projects.

His delegation included the Foreign Minister Chen Tan-San and 68 other high-ranking officials.

Before his departure President Chen addressed a special sitting of parliament,- the first time a foreign head of state has done so - and signed an agreement with the Solomons Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza.

The Director of Government Communications in the Solomons, Johnson Honimae, says the agreement didn't include an increase an aid but was simpy a reaffirmation of their current relationship.

Mr Honimae says there is a special connection with the Taiwanese.

"There are a lot of similarities, despite the fact that Taiwan is a developed, much more advanced country. And Taiwan is willing to share all it's experiences it has had, especially on the economy, to share it with Solomon Islands."

President Chen's visit was the first by a Taiwanese president since the two countries started diplomatic ties in 1983.