Tue, Jun 22, 2004 - Page 3 News List

President awards medal to former AIT chairwoman

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Therese Shaheen, left, former chairwoman of the American Institute in Taiwan, toasts friends and well-wishers at a function in which President Chen Shui-bian awarded her the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon for her contributions to Taiwan-US relations.

PHOTO: CNA

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday awarded a medal to Therese Shaheen, former chairwoman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), for her contributions to Taiwan-US relations.

"She is not only the best friend Taiwan has, but also the guardian angel of all Taiwanese people," Chen said when welcoming Shaheen to the Presidential Office yesterday morning, adding that the Taiwan-US relationship is currently solid and close.

After decorating Shaheen with the "Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon," Chen said that the friendship between Taiwan and the US had been markedly advanced by Shaheen's efforts at the AIT.

He said her uniquely warm and kind personality had filled US-Taiwan interactions with vitality.

"On the eve of our country's Dragon Boat Festival, I think that the Taiwan-US relationship can be compared with the `glutinous rice dumplings' which the country's people eat on this special day," Chen said.

"Just like the dumplings, which have so many delicious ingredients but are wrapped in leaves, people cannot see what is hidden inside," Chen said.

"Although the US and Taiwan do not currently have official diplomatic ties, the two countries' relationship is essentially very diverse and substantial in content. This includes so many friendships and achievements brought about by Mrs. Shaheen's efforts," the president said.

Chen said that he hopes Shaheen will be able to continue speaking out on Taiwan's behalf in the international community and seek further support from different camps in the US.

Shaheen said that Taiwan's experience provided inspiration to her in her career and that the bravery of all Taiwanese people also encouraged her.

"If the entire world is a shell, then Taiwan is the most brilliant pearl in it," Shaheen said, adding that the president is a good shepherd of Taiwanese society and that he would guide all sheep in the right direction.

The Presidential Office yesterday held a banquet in honor of Shaheen.

Although Shaheen described her four-day trip in Taiwan as a "private visit to meet some old friends," the government has given her a high-profile reception in an apparent bid to demonstrate Chen's appreciation for her efforts to facilitate communication between his administration and the US government during her 16 months in her post, as well to help the president to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough during his stopover in New York in October last year.

A number of top government officials attended closed-door meetings with Shaheen yesterday, including the president, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Yu Shyi-kun, National Security Council Chairman Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), Minister of National Defense Lee-Jye (李傑) and Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮).

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