Wed, Jan 11, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Former AIT chair arrives for three-day `private' tour

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairwoman Therese Shaheen will arrive in Taipei today for a three-day private visit during which she will give a speech and meet with high-ranking government officials, sources said yesterday.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said yesterday that Shaheen was invited by Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of American Studies for a three-day visit.

The former AIT head will be visiting as a private citizen and the MOFA hasn't made any arrangements for a meeting with Shaheen during her stay in Taipei, Lu said.

Lu said yesterday that Shaheen will give a speech on Friday at the Foreign Service Institute, the training institute for the country's diplomats, and the vice foreign minister Michael Kau (高英茂) will be present.

The MOFA yesterday declined to give further details of Shaheen's itinerary in Taipei and whether she will meet with any government officials, saying the former AIT head's trip was arranged entirely by the private academic institute, and not the government.

However, sources in Washington said yesterday Shaheen will meet with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who will visit Washington on Jan. 24 and 25 during a transit stop to Honduras to attend the inauguration ceremony for its new president on Jan. 27.

The visit by Shaheen comes at a sensitive time as the Legislature is due to vote on the arms procurement budget before the current legislative session ends on Friday.

However, according to the Chinese-language ETtoday Web site, Shaheen said this trip was not related to the arms procurement budget and that she was not in Taiwan to lobby on behalf of any arms dealer in the US.

Shaheen, who still maintains close ties with high-ranking government officials here, said she is coming to visit some old friends, including President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山).

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