Fri, Feb 18, 2005 - Page 3 News List

AIT's Paal visits DPP's new boss

COURTESY CALL The two men discussed several upcoming elections, the arms sales budget before the legislature and Su's desire to make a return visit the US

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

American Institute in Taiwan Director Douglas Paal shakes hands yesterday with Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang to congratulate him on his new post. The two men also discussed arms sales and cross-strait relations.

PHOTO: SUNG CHIH-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Douglas Paal paid a courtesy call yesterday morning on Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who told him he was very interested in visiting the US.

According to Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), the director of the DPP's Department of International Affairs, Paal visited Su to congratulate him on his new job and exchange opinions on several issues, including the National Assembly election and the city mayor and county commissioner elections, US arms sales and Beijing's proposed anti-secession law, she said.

The meeting lasted about 30 minutes, said Hsiao, who acted as translator during the meeting.

Valued relationship

"The US is the most important friend of Taiwan and the DPP values the relationship with the US very much," Su said after the meeting.

"I will work on establishing a smooth channel of communications between the DPP and the US, creating comprehensive interactions with the US and helping the DPP to step onto the international stage," he said.

Su said he told Paal of his concerns over Beijing's proposed anti-secession law.

"Beijing's anti-secession law would unilaterally change the status quo between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. It would not help the stability of cross-strait relations and would only increase cross-strait tensions," he said.

"I think it's unwise for China to use legal action to solve a political issue," Su said.

As for the legislative debate over arms sales, Su told Paal that the DPP will push for the arms budget to be passed as soon as possible.

US trip

Su also expressed his interest in traveling to the US this year and Paal welcomed Su to visit on behalf of the US government.

According to Hsiao, Su visited the US at AIT's invitation about 20 years ago and he is interested in going to Washington again.

"Su is, after all, the only high-ranking official of the DPP government who could visit the US," Hsiao said.

She said that the US has welcomed DPP chairmen in the past and both Shih Ming-teh (施明德) and Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) had made trips.

"The US has the same attitude to a trip by Su this time," she said.

Hsiao said the timing of a US visit will depend on Su's job responsibilities: "Since the National Assembly representatives election will be held in May, it is more likely that a US trip would take place after May or in the latter half of the year."

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