Fri, May 07, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Three former AIT heads to attend inauguration

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) directors David Laux, Nat Bellocchi and Richard Bush have accepted invitations to attend President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) inauguration ceremony on May 20, according to the Presidential Office.

Victor Chin (秦日新), director general of the foreign ministry's Department of North American Affairs, reported yesterday that 15 groups of participants from North America will join the swearing-in ceremony.

Guests from the region number nearly 100. Chin declined to reveal the names of the members in the de facto US delegation, but said he believed the group would consist of high-ranking officials. Washington is expected to announce the names on the list soon.

Because the US Congress is in session, Chin said that congressmen needed to apply for leave if they wanted to participate in the inauguration.

Other American guests invited to the occasion include prominent think-tank researchers and political commentators, Chin said.

Chin said communication with the US over the content of the president's inauguration speech had been proceeding well.

"The US has appreciated Taiwan's sincerity in its communication," the official added, dismissing media reports that Washington was unhappy about drafts of Chen's speech.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Office confirmed that Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara will also be attending the ceremony. Liberal International, a world federation of liberal political parties, will also dispatch a delegation to the celebration.

Larry Wang (王豫元), director general of the ministry's Department of European Affairs, said earlier this week that although European delegations included members of some parliaments, no government officials were able to attend the inauguration ceremony.

Javior Hou (侯清山), director general of the ministry's Department of Central and South American Affairs, said 18 official delegations from the region consisting of around 80 people will take part in the ceremony.

So far, 15 heads of state have confirmed they will attend, the ministry said.

LATIN AMERICA

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) plans to travel to El Salvador to attend the inauguration of president-elect Antonio Saca at the end of this month, but a departure date and details of her itinerary have not been finalized, Hou said.

Hou affirmed that Taiwan's relations with Panama remained solid even with the election of opposition presidential candidate Martin Torrijos.

He said that Taiwan's embassy in Panama maintained close and friendly relations with all political parties there. Before the election, Torrijos had on several occasions vowed to maintain ties.

After he was elected, Torrijos said Panama would only have trade relations with China, Hou said.

Taiwan's Caribbean ally, the Dominican Republic, will be holding a presidential election on May 16.

Current polls show the opposition candidate is leading the race. However, Hou predicted that no matter which candidate was elected, it was unlikely that ties would be affected.

Haiti, which has suffered recent instability, will send an official delegation to Chen's inauguration ceremony. Haiti's foreign minister will head the delegation, Hou said.

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