Presidential Office Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (
Chiou was accompanied by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau (高英茂), National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Ko Cheng-heng (柯承亨) and DPP legislators Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) and Chen Chung-hsin (陳忠信).
They were expected to meet with White House Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.
The Presidential Office yesterday said little about the trip, but it is thought that Chiou will discuss the DPP government's plan to hold a referendum on or before presidential election day next year.
President Chen Shui-bian (
Although the US government has made it clear that Taiwan has to make the decision on whether to hold referendums, some officials have reportedly expressed their reservations about the plan.
Douglas Paal, director of the American Institute in Taiwan, was quoted in Chinese-language news-papers as telling Chen that the US opposed any kind of referendum because Beijing would construe them as provocative. Paal denied making the comment.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (
"We think Chiou is the most appropriate person to communicate with the US," Chien said after the DPP's weekly closed-door Central Standing Committee meeting.
A foreign ministry spokesman, however, denied that Kau would also be discussing the referendum while in Washington.
Kau's trip will focus on his visit to the National Endowment for Democracy and expressing the government's gratitude for US support for Taiwan's bid to join the WHO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦) said.
Meanwhile, Chien also confirmed that Vice President Annette Lu (
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