Mon, Dec 05, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Planned meeting is ‘wild’ rumor

SURPRISE!A source said that Trump’s open acknowledgment of the call on Twitter caught Tsai’s staff unprepared, as the Presidential Office had kept it under wraps

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Presidential Office yesterday urged the public to refrain from speculation following reports that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) plans to meet with US president-elect Donald Trump when traveling to Central America on a state visit next month.

“Regarding media reports today [yesterday] that the president plans to meet with president-elect Trump and his team during a state visit next month, they are all just wild speculation,” the office said in a statement.

Details of any overseas state visit by Tsai or Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) would be made public after they are confirmed and finalized, it added.

The Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday cited an anonymous source as saying that Tsai plans to visit Central American diplomatic ally Nicaragua next month to attend the inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and is expected to make a transit stop in New York.

“[Tsai’s aides] are working to secure a meeting with US Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who has been named as Trump’s White House chief of staff,” the report said. “They also do not rule out a meeting with Trump.”

The report followed a historic telephone call between Tsai and Trump on Friday, which lasted about 10 minutes and was focused mainly on economic development and improving Taiwan’s national defense.

It was the first publicly reported call between a Taiwanese leader and a US president or president-elect since Washington severed official diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 and switched recognition to Beijing.

Citing another source familiar with the matter who also requested anonymity, the report said that while the public has questioned whether the Tsai administration had “bet on the wrong US presidential candidate” following Trump’s unexpected electoral victory, Tsai has already established a line of communication with Trump’s camp through the Washington-based Heritage Foundation’s founder Edwin Feulner and the nation’s representative office in the US capital.

The source was quoted as saying that at the time, the administration’s priority was getting Tsai and Trump to talk on the telephone, adding that, despite positive responses from the Trump camp during initial communication, the Presidential Office remained discreet about the matter.

Trump’s open acknowledgment of the call on Twitter caught Tsai’s team by surprise, the source said.

The Tsai administration hopes that an in-person interaction with Trump could provide a further boost to Taiwan-US relations, the report said, adding that National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) allegedly made a visit to the US recently to negotiate a possible meeting.

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