Wed, Jun 19, 2019 - Page 1 News List

No cutback in US official visits: MOFA

VISITORS STILL ARRIVING:A senior ministry official said trips by several US officials over the past few months were evidence that Taiwan-US relations are still sound

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Department of North American Affairs Director Vincent Yao speaks at a news conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said it has not received any information that US President Donald Trump has asked government officials not to visit Taiwan, and that continuing visits by senior US officials show that Taiwan-US ties remain tight.

The statement came in response to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report on Monday that the Trump administration is divided over the impact a US$2 billion-plus arms sale to Taiwan could have on its efforts to reinitiate trade talks with China.

The newspaper cited three anonymous White House and administration sources as saying US officials are worried that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) might use the arms deal as an excuse not to meet with Trump on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, later this month.

One of the sources told the WSJ that Trump had lashed out last year after hearing that US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alex Wong (黃之瀚) had traveled to Taipei in March, asking officials what Wong was doing.

Trump requested that no US diplomats travel to Taiwan while he works on a deal with China, the source said.

It “took some convincing” by US officials and lawmakers to make Trump see “the value in using Taiwan as a bargaining chip in his talks with China,” the report said.

The ministry has not received information about Trump’s reported request that US diplomats not visit Taiwan, and it maintains smooth communications with the US, Department of North American Affairs Director-General Vincent Yao (姚金祥) told a routine news conference when asked about the WSJ story.

Over the past several months, many senior US officials have visited Taiwan, which demonstrates the soundness of ties, Yao said.

Among the visitors have been US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Trade Policy and Negotiations David Meale, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Nerissa Cook and US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce.

Since Trump’s administration took office in January 2017, the US has announced three arms package sales to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, showing its commitment to Taiwan’s security, to which the ministry expressed its gratitude, Yao said.

The military has sent four letters of request about purchasing M1A2 Abrams tanks and other items, and is awaiting a response, Yao said, reiterating previous comments by Ministry of National Defense officials.

The process is going smoothly and according to schedule, he said.

Additional reporting by CNA and staff writer

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