Taiwan leader meets French lawmakers, Abbott

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has held separate meetings with a group of visiting French senators and former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. She expressed appreciation for their concern about the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.

Tsai held talks with the nonpartisan four-member French delegation in her office in Taipei on Thursday.

She told them Taiwan was very moved by their decision to visit despite pressure -- an apparent reference to China's fierce opposition to their visit.

She also referred to the French Senate's passage of a resolution in May in support of allowing Taiwan to participate in international bodies.

Tsai said she is grateful for France showing interest in the importance of the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait, and for its support for Taiwan's bid to join international organizations.

Former French Defense Minister Alain Richard, who headed the delegation, said Taiwan has made a lot of global contributions in a wide range of fields, such as the economy, scientific and technological development, and public health. He added that this is an important reason why France gives its support to Taiwan.

Later in the day, the Taiwanese president talked with former Australian Prime Minister Abbott.

Tsai referred to Taiwan's application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.

She reaffirmed Taiwan's eagerness to join the free trade pact, saying Taiwan wants to strengthen trade ties with Australia, and the rest of the world.

Abbott said, " I can't think of a stronger signal of democracies standing shoulder to shoulder with Taiwan than Taiwan's accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership."

Tsai has been aiming to step up cooperation with democratic nations to counter growing pressure from China.