Taipei, April 17 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) departed Tuesday for a four-day, three-night visit to Swaziland, her first trip to Africa since assuming office in May 2016.
When Tsai’s charter flight took off, Hsinchu Air Base scrambled four Mirage 2000 fighters to escort it for about 20 minutes from Taoyuan to Hengchun, Pingtung County.
Tsai said over the in-flight broadcast system that once in Swaziland she will review the results of several cooperation projects between the two countries and give encouragement to Taiwanese expatriates and businesses in the African country.
While she is away, the administrative and national security teams will remain on duty, Tsai said, and she has asked them to keep close watch on the situation near Taiwan and take relevant measures in the event of an emergency.
Tsai reiterated that the government is duty-bound to maintain peace, stability and prosperity across the Taiwan Strait and said the government has confidence and determination in safeguarding the nation’s security.
The president is traveling on a nonstop flight to Swaziland and is expected to arrive in the southern African kingdom at around 3:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday.
Later in the evening, Tsai will hold talks with King Mswati III and sign a joint communique before attending a state dinner hosted by the king.
On Thursday, Tsai will attend a celebration marking 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries and the Swazi king’s 50th birthday, as well as the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence.
She will present Swaziland with gifts from one of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes, as well as five cows, which represent wealth in the southern African kingdom and are a traditional ceremonial gift.
During her stay in Swaziland, the president and her delegation will also meet with local officials and inspect many of the medical, agricultural and educational initiatives that Taiwan has undertaken there.
There will also be meetings with members of the overseas Taiwanese community and business people in southern Africa.
On the last day of the visit, Tsai will host a press reception prior to a luncheon with the Swazi king, after which they will take a safari together before she leaves on her return trip to Taiwan.
Tsai is expected to arrive home at around noon Saturday.
(By Chang Liang-chih, Y.F. Low and Evelyn Kao)
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