Palau president visiting Taiwan with US envoy

The president of Palau is visiting Taiwan in an apparent bid to strengthen ties as China continues to expand its influence in the Pacific region.

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. arrived Sunday at Taoyuan International Airport where he was greeted by Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

The US ambassador to Palau is accompanying the Palau leader.

During the visit, Whipps is expected to meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, attend a Palau tourism promotional event, and visit shipbuilding and fishing industries in southern Taiwan.

Taiwan and Palau, both of which have successfully contained the coronavirus, plan to launch a quarantine-free travel corridor on April 1 allowing tour groups to travel between the two locations.

Whipps is scheduled to return home on a chartered flight with the first group of Taiwanese tourists.

Palau is one of 15 countries having diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The United States is responsible for Palau's defense.

Whipps chose Taiwan for his first overseas trip after taking office in January.