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25.01.2006 General News

Ministry regrets Agbogbomefia's suffering in China

Ministry regrets Agbogbomefia's suffering in China

Accra, Jan. 25, GNA - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday joined the Ghana Embassy in Beijing to express regrets for any inconveniences suffered by the Agbogbomefia of Asogli Traditional Area, Togbe Afede XIV and his delegation during their visit to China last year.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement said it followed with deep concern the publication of a series of articles in the print and electronic media between January 16 and January 20 2006, all purporting, inter-alia, that Togbe Afede was sidelined by the Embassy of Ghana in Beijing when he led a 25- member delegation to China in August 2005.

"The Ministry has duly consulted with the Mission and hereby submits the reaction of the latter for publication as a rejoinder in the hope that the explanation offered would clarify matters and lay the unfortunate misunderstanding to rest."

It said: "On 22nd August, 2005 the Embassy was instructed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hold itself in readiness to meet and extend courtesies to a 25-member delegation led by Togbe Afede XIV, which was to arrive at Beijing Airport via Hong Kong by China Air flight CA 6516 on 28th August 2005.

"In compliance with this directive two officers of the Mission, the Minister Counsellor and the First Secretary, were dispatched to Beijing Airport on 28th August 2005 only for them to discover that flight No. CA 6516 was not among the flights scheduled to arrive from Hong Kong on that date.

The statement said: "Nevertheless the two officers were instructed by the Head of Mission to remain at the airport in the hope that the delegation might arrive somehow.

"The delegation eventually arrived close to midnight by a Dragon Air flight instead of the Air China flight communicated to the Ministry and the Mission."

It said, "Then came the second problem: The Chinese hosts of the delegation, who were unknown to the Mission since it had not been brought into the picture at the planning stage, were nowhere to be found.

"The Agbogbomefia had to make a phone call to the Chinese Embassy in Accra, which in turn phoned the Chinese organisers of the visit to rush to the Airport to receive their guests. The hosts eventually emerged close to two hours of the delegation's arrival.

"The Mission, thereafter assisted members of the delegation to check into their hotel but could not participate in their activities in China on account that they were occupied by the 4th Senior Officials Meeting of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Beijing from 22nd to 30th August 2005.

The statement said, "the Head of Mission also travelled to Vietnam on 30th August 2005 on official business, including participation in functions hosted by the President of Vietnam."

It said the delegation had left China by the time the Ambassador returned from his trip.

"The Embassy deeply regrets the erroneous impression that it deliberately ignored that Agbogbomefia and his delegation during their visit to China. The problem was that it could not put aside programmed activities involving Heads of State and high-powered delegations of the host country and African Governments to participate in activities of the Agbogbomefia's delegation in which it had no assigned role."

The statement requested that: "For the avoidance of similar incidents in the future, the Embassy respectfully suggests that our traditional leaders be made aware of the need to involve Ghana Missions abroad in the planning of their official visits to foreign lands to ensure that the Missions are assured of defined roles during the visits.

"It is also important that delegations that visit at short notice demonstrate understanding of the prior engagements of Missions, especially where such engagements are of the kind that can only be ignored either at the peril of relations between missions and host governments, or at the expense of Ghana's larger national interests."

It asked visiting delegations to feel free to call on Missions abroad to discuss their programmes and difficulties, even where Missions were unable to be with them on account of prior engagements.