Fri, May 21, 2004 - Page 4 News List

US congressmen support Chen

POSITIVE MESSAGE A number of congressmen congratulated President Chen Shui-bian on his inauguration and slammed Beijing's meddling tactics

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

A huge dragon balloon floats in front of the Presidential Office yesterday, adding to the cheerful atmosphere at the presidential inauguration.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Scores of US congressmen sent letters to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) congratulating him on his inauguration for a second term in office, pledging their "unequivocal" support. They also urged him to work for renewed cross-strait dialogue and slammed Beijing for its recent threats to use force against Taiwan.

"As you begin your second term," 55 members of the US House of Representatives wrote in one letter, "we hope to reassure you that we are committed to the security, prosperity and future of the people of Taiwan. We know that you will continue to be a strong advocate for the people of Taiwan and we welcome the opportunity to work with you and to foster even stronger links between our two democracies."

A similar letter is being circulated in the US Senate and is still collecting signatures, according to a spokesman for Senator Larry Craig of Idaho, who is circulating the letter. It is expected to be sent today.

The House letter promised a "renewed American effort" to secure Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization and other international organizations, enhance Taiwan security, improve trade and economic relations, retain "the continuation of high-level meetings between American and Taiwanese Cabinet members," and make "a concerted effort to reinvigorate cross-strait talks."

While the letter pressed Chen to work to renew talks with China, it also addressed the need for Beijing to cooperate.

"We strongly believe that continued statements coming from Beijing threatening to use force against Taiwan are unacceptable ... the United States is committed to ensuring that the future of Taiwan be determined peacefully by the people of Taiwan and free from outside threats, intimidation, or interference."

The congressmen were led in writing the letter by two of the co-chairmen of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, Ohio representatives Sherrod Brown and Steve Chabot. California's Dana Rohrbacher, another co-chair, also signed the letter.

The fourth co-chair, Robert Wexler of Florida, however, did not sign the letter.

Wexler said it was inappropriate to sign until the legal procedures surrounding the ballot recount were completed, since he has lodged his own lawsuit against the state of Florida to overturn a ruling blocking the recount of electronic votes there.

The suit stems from the 2000 US presidential election, which was decided by the Supreme Court in favor of US President George W. Bush over Al Gore after a dispute over Florida's vote count and recount.

Wexler's electoral district was at the heart of that dispute.

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