Sat, Jul 03, 2004 - Page 3 News List

EU representative Lee confirmed as head of US mission

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The US government has approved the appointment of David Lee (李大維), the country's top representative to Brussels and the EU, to succeed Chen Chien-jen (程建人) as head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) said yesterday.

Mark Chen, who returned to Taipei yesterday after wrapping up his first trip to the US and Europe as foreign minister, said at a tea party with reporters that the US would officially confirm Lee's appointment in the next few days.

Mark Chen met with Chen Chien-jen in New York to discuss the new posting. Lee is in Brussels, but is scheduled to return to Taipei to prepare for his new post on Tuesday.

The US agreement comes six weeks after Taipei first recommended Lee as Chen Chien-jen's successor.

Victor Chin (秦日新), director general of the ministry's Department of North American Affairs, said Lee will stay in Taipei for his inauguration ceremony and brief several government agencies on his appointment.

The inauguration ceremony is planned for next Saturday, Chin said.

"Lee will then take a trip back to Brussels for a farewell party. He is expected to take over official duties as representative to the US at the end of this month," he said.

Meanwhile, former foreign minister Eugene Chien (簡又新) will take up Lee's post in Brussels and the EU, Mark Chen said. He did not say specifically when Chien would take up the post.

CHEN ON THE ROAD

Mark Chen, who departed for the US on June 17, met with overseas Taiwanese in Los Angeles, his first stop. He then flew to Denver, Colorado, to attend a private, three-day forum for talks on critical issues facing the US.

At the forum, convened by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Mark Chen chatted briefly with US Vice President Dick Cheney. He did not disclose the contents of his conversation with Cheney.

Former US president Gerald Ford and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan also took part in the forum.

Mark Chen said that he and Cheney participated in a seminar discussing the uneasy alliance between the US and China.

In Boston, the foreign minister's third stop in the US, Mark Chen met with academics from Harvard University and joined a seminar discussing relations between Taiwan, China and the US.

He denied that Washington had exerted any pressure to get Taiwan to earmark a NT$610.8 billion (US$18.25 billion) defense budget to purchase weapons from the US.

The scale of the budget was tentatively arrived at after the US Department of Defense, which had studied China's military upgrades and Taiwan's defense requirements, suggested to Taiwan which weapons it should buy, Mark Chen said.

He dismissed rumors that the US had communicated to China which weapons it would sell Taiwan even as Taipei was working on the details of the defense budget.

"The US would not negotiate with China on this matter," he said.

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