The Presidential Office yesterday said it would be happy to see former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) attend US president-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) made the comments in response to the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) recommendation that Lu serve as part of the Taiwanese delegation.
Wang said, however, that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) was responsible for handling the matter and the paperwork had not been sent to the Presidential Office.
At a separate setting yesterday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus deputy secretary-general Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said that the caucus would be happy to see Lu attend Obama’s inauguration.
“Annette Lu is a very good diplomat,” Lo said. “We would be very happy to see her attend the Obama inauguration if she is invited to do so. However, it is entirely up to the United States to decide if they want to invite her or not. It is their call.”
KMT Legislator Wu Ching-chih (吳清池) said MOFA should encourage Lu to attend the inauguration.
“Even if China objects, we should still allow her to be part of the delegation to show that we, Taiwanese, are non-partisan,” he said.
KMT Legislator Shuai Hua-ming (帥化民) echoed Wu, saying that “the DPP does not have too many talented diplomats. Lu is the only DPP figure with the prominence to attend international events. I have no objections to her attending Obama’s inauguration.”
DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), however, said earlier yesterday that “it seems that MOFA is trying to obstruct Lu from being part of the delegation.”
“It is the DPP’s right to send whoever we see fit to attend Obama’s inauguration. Lu is a very appropriate candidate,” he said.
In response, MOFA Spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) denied that any objections had been raised, saying that the delegation was still being planned.
MOFA officials said the ministry had asked Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who will lead the delegation, to help organize the group a few weeks ago, but added that Wang had not submitted a list of potential members to the ministry.
MOFA fully respects Wang’s opinion and had not expressed any views on who he should choose, the officials said.
Chen said it would not be a problem if Lu were to join the delegation, because her possible participation is not expected to meet any opposition from the US.
A US State Department official said yesterday that “there shouldn’t be any problems” with Lu attending since she no longer holds an official position that would make issuing a visa problematic.
The official added that a visa application from Lu would be handled according to standard procedure.
State department officials, however, said that they could not make any detailed comment since the question of whether Lu’s attendance would be deemed appropriate would be decided by Obama’s transition team.
Members of the team dealing with the inauguration said yesterday they had not received any information concerning Lu’s attendance.
US government regulations prohibit visits to Washington by Taiwan’s head of state, deputy head of state, premier, foreign minister and national defense minister.
Additional reporting by Nadia Tsao