Thu, Aug 10, 2006 - Page 1 News List

US quietly frowns on Hezbollah-Taiwan rendezvous

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The Bush administration made it clear on Tuesday that it was upset by a meeting Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) held with a leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon in April. However, it added that it believed Taipei remained committed to opposing terrorism despite the meeting.

"Taiwan is well aware of the US' views on Hezbollah, which is designated as a foreign terrorist organization," a State Department official, who was not authorized to be identified, said on Tuesday.

According to the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Hezbollah has been listed as a terrorist organization since 1997 and has killed more Americans than any other terrorist group except for al-Qaeda.

However, the US official said the Bush administration did not view Huang's clandestine meeting with Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah as an attempt by Taiwan to seek closer ties with such groups.

"We have no indication of any change in Taiwan's commitment to cooperate in the war on terrorism," the US official said.

Taiwan was one of the US' first supporters in the "war on terror" after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and was a minor partner of the so-called "coalition of the willing" that supported Washington's invasion of Iraq.

In addition to offering large sums of aid in support of US efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Taiwan at one point offered to send some 5,000 Marines to Iraq, an offer refused by the Bush administration.

While administration officials refused to talk on the record about the meeting, they said that it happened before the spat between President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Washington over whether he would be allowed to stop in the US en route to visiting Latin American allies in May.

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