Thu, Jun 03, 2004 - Page 2 News List

US brigadier-general's visit to Taiwan to mark breakthrough: Presidential Office

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

US Brigadier-General John Allen, principal director of Asia and Pacific Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, will visit Taiwan next month to discuss military cooperation and defense plans, a source at the Presidential Office told the Taipei Times yesterday.

Allen's visit would mark a breakthrough as it would be the first time an active US general has paid an official visit to Taiwan since the US severed diplomatic ties with the country in 1978.

The Ministry of National Defense and the American Institute in Taiwan, however, said they did not know anything about Allen's visit.

Allen has visited Taiwan several times before. He most recently visited at the end of last year as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He was promoted early this year.

The source at the Presidential Office refused to specify when Allen is scheduled to arrive.

Allen handles contacts with Taiwan, China, Japan and other Asian countries and is a deputy to Richard Lawless, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific Affairs.

Exchanges between high-ranking Taiwanese and American military personnel began under the administration of Bill Clinton and were promoted by Kurt Campbell, Clinton's assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific affairs.

On Taiwan's side, military officers ranking as high as the chief of the general staff have visited the US, while on the US side, the highest-ranking officers to visit Taiwan have been colonels.

With a rank of brigadier-general, Allen's visit would mark a breakthrough.

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