20 Feb 2009

Taiwan promises to help residents of Tuvalu

12:41 pm on 20 February 2009

Taiwan has promised to help residents of Tuvalu combat the effects of climate change.

Reuters reports that Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has told Tuvalu's visiting Prime Minister, Apisai Ielemia, that his government wants to work more closely with the archipelago.

Tuvalu's nine coral reefs face inundation as global warming pushes up sea levels.

Its leaders have been seeking an eventual haven for their 12,000 citizens as the sea level rises.

A spokesperson for Taiwan's Foreign Ministry, Henry Chen, says his country is an ally and will exhaust all options to save Tuvalu.

It was not immediately clear how Taiwan could help save Tuvalu.

Options could include relocations or specialised infrastructure.

In December, Mr Ielemia told the United Nations that rich countries were blocking funds to help low-lying island nations cope with rising seas that could wipe them off the map.