Fri, Jul 04, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Paal salutes US-Taiwan relationship

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

PHOTO: AP

The shared adherence to democratic values and the desire to achieve peace and prosperity has made cooperation between Taiwan and the US "as natural as the waters flowing from Taiwan's beautiful mountains," said the de facto US ambassador, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Douglas Paal said in Taipei yesterday.

As the US celebrates its 227th year of independence on July 4, the AIT held the American Independence Day reception at Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown Taipei yesterday.

Paal first read his brief address in Mandarin before switching to English in front of a roomful of guests, sources inside the venue said.

"This cooperation is as enduring as it is natural," Paal said.

Paal said Taiwan continues to undergo "great change," while the AIT staffers "are attempting to keep pace."

He did not elaborate.

He then turned to thank Taiwan for its patience and understanding for a series of heightened security check measures and visa applications for travelers from Taiwan in the wake of Sept. 11 attacks.

As the US adjusts to its new challenges such as "international terrorism," the AIT thanks people from Taiwan for having put up with the "inconvenience of obtaining visas when traveling to the US," Paal said.

Paal also reminded his audience of his first anniversary as the American representative in Taiwan yesterday, while expressing his gratitude for what he termed "your kind welcome, your patience and your willingness to listen."

Paal has recently found himself at the center of the storm after the press alleged that he had expressed opposition to the government's plan to conduct referendums.

Paal, in an interview with the Central News Agency (CNA) late last month, said he had never said that the US opposes Taiwan's plan to hold referendums.

The so-called "storm of US opposition" to referendums was solely created by the local media, Paal told CNA.

AIT spokesperson Judith Mudd-Krijgelman said late last month that the US would take President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on his word that he won't hold a plebiscite on the question of independence or unification.

In his brief remarks at the function, Premier Yu Shyi-kun expressed the nation's appreciation for the US support for Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer, sources said.

The WHA is the top decision making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), a UN specialized agency focusing on global health issues.

Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) also attended the party, sources said.

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