Sun, Dec 04, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Groundbreaking Call: Tsai, Trump talk of defense, economics

NEW ERA?On Taiwan-US relations, Tsai expressed the hope of boosting bilateral exchanges and contacts and building closer cooperation, the Presidential Office said

Staff writer, with CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen, center, is flanked by National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu, left, and Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee as she speaks to US president-elect Donald Trump over the telephone in the Presidential Office in Taipei on Friday evening.

Photo provided by the Presidential Office

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and US president-elect Donald Trump spoke over the telephone on issues relating to improving the economy and strengthening national defense, the Presidential Office said yesterday.

The conversation, which the Presidential Office said took place at 11pm on Friday and lasted slightly longer than 10 minutes, was the first publicly reported call between a US president or a president-elect and a Taiwanese leader since 1979, when Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

Tsai congratulated Trump on his victory in the closely contested US presidential election and said she believed he would make an excellent president, the Presidential Office said in a news release, which added that Tsai also conveyed to Trump the hope that the US would support Taiwan making more contributions to and having more participation in international issues.

National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) and two other presidential aides were present during the conversation, the news release said.

Tsai and Trump talked about their views and ideals on governance, especially on promoting domestic economic development and strengthening national defense to ensure a better, safer life for the public, it said.

The two leaders also briefly exchanged views on the situation in Asia, it added.

On Taiwan-US relations, Tsai expressed the hope of boosting bilateral exchanges and contacts and establishing closer cooperation, it said.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) confirmed that it was Tsai who made the call to Trump following a pre-arranged procedure.

While he declined to give other details about the arrangement, a source familiar with the matter said that Edwin Feulner, founder of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, played a key role in setting up the call.

Feulner, in Taipei in October, joined the Trump team in August, according to US media reports.

Trump also took to Twitter about the call.

The US president-elect tweeted: “The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!”

The traditional US diplomatic formulation for referring to Taiwan’s leader is “the president on Taiwan.”

In a second tweet Trump wrote: “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”

US President Barack Obama’s White House said the outgoing US administration had not changed its stance.

“There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-strait issues,” US National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said.

“We remain firmly committed to our ‘One China’ policy,” she added. “Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-strait relations.”

Additional reporting by AFP and The Guardian

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