Wed, Sep 21, 2005 - Page 3 News List

President's Alaska stopover extended because of storm

BY CHIU YU-TZU  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) transit in Anchorage on his way to Miami, Florida, yesterday was extended from 2 to 12 hours because of the closure of Miami's airport ahead of Tropical Storm Rita.

Chen's charter flight arrived in Anchorage at 5am.

He was warmly greeted by Alaskan state officials, and the situation was fully accepted by the US authorities, the Presidential Office said yesterday.

GLACIERS

A frequent visitor to Taiwan over the years, Alaskan Governor Frank Murkowski sent representatives to receive Chen at the airport, after which they escorted Chen to the nearby town of Portage to admire spectacular glaciers.

Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳) said that the US government had given its support to the changes that had been made to Chen's itinerary.

"The change is purely because of the hurricane. After all, weather factors are beyond our control," Huang said.

He said that the change would not extend the total amount of time Chen will transit in the US because his stay in Miami will be shortened.

Huang also said that some activities in Miami would be either canceled or postponed.

UNCERTAIN

Huang said that it remained uncertain who would present Chen with a human-rights award from the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus.

This was because the travel schedules of two members of Congress -- Democratic Rep-resentative Tom Lantos and Republican Representative Steve Chabot -- had been disrupted by the storm.

At press time, Chen had not concluded his time sightseeing at Portage. Murkowski, who has visited Taiwan 19 times and is a personal friend of Chen, is scheduled to treat his Taiwanese friends to a lunch banquet.

If the weather cooperates, Chen will arrive in Miami this afternoon.

On Sept. 22, Chen will leave Miami for Guatemala, where he launches his trip to five diplomatic allies.

The other allies are the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, St. Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Chen is scheduled to return to Taipei on Oct. 1.

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