Tue, Mar 23, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Chen gets congratulations: MOFA

FOREIGN BRIEFINGS The ministry says the US has been very circumspect, only praising the people of Taiwan for conducting a `democratic election campaign'

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received many messages congratulating President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on his re-election despite the controversy over the election results and demonstrations by opposition supporters.

The US, however, congratulated "the people of Taiwan for having conducted a democratic election campaign" but stopped short of recognizing Chen's re-election.

When Chen met with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Douglas Paal on Sunday, the diplomat reminded him that the US had faced a similar election dispute in its 2000 president election, which led to a time-consuming vote recount in Florida, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新).

The US delayed the official announcement of the 2000 results for 36 days because of the demand for a recount in Florida, Chien said.

The US government is being very "circumspect" in observing Taiwan's election, Chien said, noting: "The US would not intervene in Taiwan's internal affairs. It believes both sides have the ability to settle the situation peacefully and rationally."

According to an AIT spokesman, Paal told Chen that Washington is taking a hands-off attitude toward the disputes over the election results.

During Sunday's meeting Paal told Chen that the US position over the election dispute is that"this is Taiwan's internal affair," AIT said.

During the meeting, "we expressed our support for Taiwan's constitutional process," an AIT spokesman said.

Chen, in turn, "expressed his position on the dispute over the election results," AIT said, without giving details.

The AIT statement said that the US "supports the use of the established constitutional mechanisms for the peaceful resolution of any doubts about the outcome of the election."

An AIT spokesman described Sunday's meeting as "the same type of meeting as we hold all the time" with Taiwanese officials.

On Saturday, US State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli said the US congratulated the people of Taiwan "for having exercised their democratic voting rights in such large numbers."

"We noted that the Central Election Commission [CEC] has declared that pan-green [camp] has won by a very narrow margin. We are aware that the pan-blue alliance has raised questions about the results," Ereli said.

"We are confident that both sides and their supporters will remain calm, and that they will use the established legal mechanisms to resolve any questions about the election results," Ereli said.

MOFA held a briefing for foreign diplomats in Taipei's Grand Hotel yesterday to discuss Friday's attack on Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and the opposition protests over the election results and demands for a recount.

Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party Chairman (KMT) Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) held a press conference for foreign reporters late last night

Lien said he would respect the result of any vote recount even if he loses a second time.

"I think the courts are our last resort in this case," he said.

"We believe we will respect the result of the recount. We have requested a transparent, speedy recount," he said.

Earlier in the day, Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), executive director of the Institute for National Policy Research, said that by calling such a press conference, Lien and Soong were seeking international pressure in order to get Chen to seek a political solution to the election dispute.

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