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Somaliland office to open soon: MOFA


Wednesday August 5, 2020
By Lin Chia-nan

DIPLOMATIC MOVES: Beijing is reportedly pressing the state after reports of forming links with Taiwan, while the ministry is also planning to reopen its office in Guam soon


Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou speaks at a news briefing at the ministry in Taipei on July 7. Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times

A representative office is set to open in Somaliland at the end of this month, at the earliest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday amid reports that Beijing is sending a diplomatic delegation to the east African country.

The ministry on July 1 announced that Taiwan and Somaliland would establish representative offices, following a report by the Somaliland Chronicle Web site.

It said at the time that the two nations did not plan to establish formal ties.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi has instructed close confidants to explore the possibility of “mutual recognition between Taiwan and Somaliland,” the Somaliland Chronicle reported on Monday, citing sources speaking on condition of anonymity.

He had also ordered a close examination of the US’ Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019, which encourages the US government to increase economic, security and diplomatic engagements with nations that have enhanced relations with Taiwan, the Web site said.

Bihi has refused to meet Chinese Ambassador to Somalia Qin Jian (覃儉), who has been in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, since Sunday, on his third visit this year, it reported.

A delegation of high-ranking diplomatic officials from Beijing was due to arrive in Somaliland, possibly as early as today, the Web site reported.

Asked about Somaliland’s plans, as reported by the Web site, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a news briefing in Taipei that the ministry would not comment on opinions of anonymous sources.

Taiwan and Somaliland maintain effective communications, and their alliance is built on their shared values of protecting freedom, democracy and human rights, the spokeswoman said.

Taiwan’s representative office in Hargeisa is set to be formally established at the end of this month or early next month, although the plan could change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

While Somaliland is not recognized by most countries, Ou said that it has been independent since 1991.

In other diplomatic news, the ministry is preparing to reopen the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Guam, which had been closed in 2017 for budgetary and personnel reasons.

The office is scheduled to be opened at the end of this month or early next month, Ou said at the briefing.

Office of Parliamentarian Affairs Deputy Executive Director Paul Chen (陳盈連) is to become the office’s director, she said.

The ministry is negotiating with Washington, as Guam is a US territory, on related matters, she added.