Former US president Jimmy Carter, who has worked to improve US relations with Cuba for more than two decades, will give it another try after his scheduled arrival yesterday at the invitation of Fidel Castro -- the communist leader who has been in power twice that long. \nAs president from 1977 to 1981, Carter helped re-establish diplomatic missions in both countries and negotiated the release of thousands of political prisoners. He also made it possible for Cuban exiles to visit their relatives on the island and, for a short time, for other Americans to travel to Cuba freely. \nBut a US trade embargo is still in place after four decades and relations are as chilly as they've ever been. \nCarter will be the first US president -- in or out of office -- to visit Cuba since the 1959 revolution that put Castro in power. Calvin Coolidge was the last American head of state to come, in 1928. \nWayne Smith, the chief US diplomat to Havana during the Carter administration, said he didn't expect "any miracles." But he said "Carter cannot achieve less than [US President George W.] Bush has, which has been zero." \nThe Bush administration has hardened the US stance toward Havana, promising not to ease trade sanctions until Cuba holds free elections and releases political prisoners. \nAlthough Carter has emphasized this is a private visit and he will not be negotiating with the Cuban government, people on all sides of the debate are pressuring him to push their agendas. \nThe White House and Cuban exiles want Carter, who has made a post-presidential career out of monitoring elections in developing democracies, to talk bluntly with his host about human rights and democracy. \n"This would be very helpful in sending that signal that freedom and democracy are important in Cuba," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. \nExile groups also hope Carter will bring up Project Varela, a campaign by Cuban activists to force a referendum asking voters if they want liberties such as freedom of speech and the right to start their own businesses. The organizers delivered their petition signatures to the legislature Friday. \nMeanwhile, Cuban officials and a growing number of Americans who oppose US sanctions hope Carter will publicly condemn the trade embargo. \n"To emphasize dialogue and engagement is the best means to advance US interests in Cuba and to promote political and economic reform on the island -- something the 40-year-old embargo has utterly failed to achieve," said Sally Grooms Cowal, a former US diplomat who is president of the Cuba Policy Foundation. \nCarter has long been on record as opposing the embargo. Earlier this year, he said increasing trade and visits by Americans to Cuba could spread understanding of the advantages of freedom. \nCastro and Carter will have plenty of time to talk, especially during two dinners that Castro has planned. \nCarter is traveling with his wife, Rosalynn, and a small group of staff from the couple's nonprofit Carter Center in Atlanta. \nThey will tour renovation projects in historic Old Havana, an agricultural cooperative, a medical research center and several schools. Carter is to make a live televised address to the Cuban people tomorrow.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.