Wed, Nov 03, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Ministry of Foreign Affairs watching US election closely

DIPLOMACY Local officials are in contact with potential candidates from both camps who may be recruited to handle Taiwan affairs

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' US presidential election observation group worked late into the night yesterday, watching and analyzing an election that might have decisive impact on Taiwan's relations with its most important diplomatic partner.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau (高英茂) led the observation group, which has been communicating intensely with the country's diplomats in the US.

Knowing the US government's officials in charge of Taiwan affairs might change after the election, the ministry has started building contacts with potential candidates that may be recruited to join the administration.

"The ministry has tried to understand and reach these potential officials," said Anna Kao (高安), deputy director-general of the Department of Information and Cultural Affairs.

The ministry will report on possible developments in Taiwan-US relations after election results are announced.

Ministry officials will be in the US Presidential Election Center 2004, set up by the American Institute in Taiwan to watch the televised results of the election starting at 8am today.

Additionally, the Taipei Eco-nomic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington will also put forth a proposal for its vision and projects following the election, Kao said.

An unnamed official said the ministry has prepared two congratulation letters, one for President George W. Bush and the other for his challenger Senator John Kerry.

"After the official election results are announced, our representative to the US David Lee (李大維) will send a letter of congratulation to the victor," the official said.

Meanwhile, Premier Yu Shyi-kun declined to comment on the US election during a question-and-answer session in the legislature yesterday.

"The US election results are unlikely to greatly change bilateral relations," Yu said.

Yu noted US Secretary of State Colin Powell has clarified his comments made during a recent visit to Beijing. In an interview during the visit, Powell said that Taiwan and China should move toward a "peaceful reunification" and that Taiwan does not enjoy sovereignty.

Taiwan's representative office in the US has communicated with US officials seeking clarification of Powell's comments, Yu said.

"Actually, Mr Powell also said many favorable words on Taiwan in Beijing. He explained the US' arms sales to Taiwan and reminded the Chinese leaders to pay attention to President Chen's invitation to talks," Yu said.

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