US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, made a phone call yesterday to congratulate President Chen Shui-bian (
"The congressman expressed his sympathy regarding the injury the president sustained in the assassination attempt, saying that he would pray for the president and vice president's quick recovery," said Presidential Office Spokesman James Huang (
"Moreover, the congressman also expects to lead a special delegation to attend the president's inauguration ceremony on May 20," said Huang.
According to Huang, DeLay said that Chen's success in Taiwan's most closely-fought presidential election will gain full US recognition and support.
"Taiwan's democratization and Chen's devotion to the fight for democracy are encouraging for the American people and should be an inspiration to China and many other developing countries," Huang quoted Delay as saying. "I and my congressional colleagues will offer full support to President Chen."
Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (
Chen and Lu were standing side-by-side in an open-topped jeep when the shooting happened.
Chen expressed appreciation for DeLay's firm support and stated that his stance was to dismiss the opposition party's allegations that the election had been rigged and that the shooting had been staged by the government.
"Originally, I thought that the wound had been incurred by firecrackers," Chen told the congressman.
"I was preparing to continue with campaign activities, until the medical staff told me at the hospital that I had been shot," the president said.
"I am more eager than anyone else to get to the bottom of the matter, and therefore I have told the public that I welcome the investigation of the incident by an independent task force," the president said.
Chen also stressed that although the Central Election Committee (CEC) would formally announce his victory, he supported the opposition parties' request of a ballot recount as soon as possible.
"I never engaged in any vote-rigging, so I am not afraid of a recount. I also expect a quick, transparent and full-scale recount to clarify all speculation and allow the nation to return to normal," Chen said.
Chen thanked the US Congress for its long-term support for Taiwan's democratic development and assistance in lobbying for membership in the World Health Organization (WHO).
The influential congressman also said the US Congress would hold a series of activities next month to mark the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act, the US law that regulates relations with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
"Meanwhile, within this time period, the US House of Representatives will pass a resolution to push the Bush administration towards offering more assistance to Taiwan in its bid to join the WHO," said DeLay, adding that he and his colleagues would also facilitate in bringing about an understanding among the international community regarding the US' firm support for Taiwan's WHO bid.