Sat, Oct 25, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Bill Clinton cancels the Taipei leg of his Asian trip

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former US president Bill Clinton has canceled a scheduled trip to Taiwan for the second time since he left office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

Clinton was originally slated to visit Taipei Nov. 15 and Nov 16 at the invitation of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, an organization founded by senior government officials to promote democracy.

Victor Chin (秦日新), director general of the ministry's Department of North American Affairs, said Clinton called off the trip because "one day was too short for him to carry out the activities he wanted."

Clinton had told Taiwanese officials in the US that having visited the country four times during his time as governor of Arkansas, he wished to meet up with many good friends he had here.

"Clinton said Taiwan deeply impressed him and that he wanted to see Taiwan's dynamic democracy. But the brief overnight stay, which would last less than 24 hours, cannot really allow him to do anything besides giving a speech and meet with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)," Chin said.

Clinton had wanted to visit early next month but delayed his arrival date so that he could meet with Chen, who will be out of the country from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 on a state visit to Panama, Chin said.

Clinton's office tried to squeeze the Taipei leg into the tight schedule of his Asian trip, between a visit to South Korea and one to Japan, but Clinton eventually decided to drop the Taipei leg.

"Now Clinton has postponed his visit until next spring," Chin said, without giving a date.

"Of course we hoped Clinton could visit Taiwan as early as possible. But we respect his decision," Chin said.

The foundation has not paid Clinton for the canceled visit yet. However, Chin said, the delay would not affect the ministry's donation to Clinton's memorial library, which is under construction in Arkansas.

Clinton might meet with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) if he visits in the spring.

A Chinese-language newspaper had invited Clinton to visit Taiwan for four days in September 2001, but the trip was canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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