Fri, Sep 23, 2005 - Page 3 News List

US officials welcome Chen in Miami, praise Taiwan

BY CHIU YU-TZU  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN MIAMI

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was warmly welcomed in Miami on Wednesday by US officials, with supporters lauding Taiwan as a place where the universal values of democracy, freedom and human rights are promoted and realized.

At a luncheon organized by the US government, dozens of Florida-based political figures as well as representatives of the private sector attended to show their friendliness to Chen.

Florida State Representative Rene Garcia, who lived in Taipei for years as a representative of the US government, said a clear message had to be delivered to the world.

"Taiwan is an independent country, which should be recognized as a whole," Garcia said.

Being born to Cuban parents in Miami, Garcia said he understood Taiwan's struggle for freedom in the face of China's interference in the international community. He said that Taiwan deserves more recognition because it has promoted universal values, such as human rights and freedom.

Chen called for increased support internationally.

"Showing support for Taiwan's participation in international organizations is showing support to both freedom and democracy," he said to the guests.

Former high-ranking US officials, including former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage and former deputy assistant secretary of state Randall Schriver, also attended the luncheon. Both now work for Armitage International, formed in March by Armitage and four partners with extensive experience in government and business.

After lunch, Chen received Armitage and Schriver privately, in the company of Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Chairman Shu Chin-chiang (蘇進強).

Asked by the media whether Taiwan's legislature should pass the arms-procurement bill as soon as possible, Armitage said, "I hope they would."

The government's proposed arms procurement budget, which would buy weapons from the US, is stalled at the legislature, where it has been blocked by the opposition 29 times.

Schriver spoke about the defense issue as well.

"If Taiwan doesn't make certain investments for its national defense, it would be harder for the US," Schriver said.

The US has said that the weapons transferred to Taiwan are only for defense. The US' Taiwan Relations Act requires that Washington provide Taiwan with equipment to ensure its defense needs.

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