Tue, May 02, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Transit diplomacy efforts under attack

STOPOVER FUSS A DPP legislator criticized the foreign ministry after it was unable to confirm if the president would be able to stop in the US en route to visiting allies

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chuo-shui (林濁水) said yesterday that it would be shameful to gauge the country's diplomatic performance solely on whether the president can stop in the US on his way to and from a visit the nation's allies.

"It is far more important to make an effort to improve our relations with foreign countries," Lin said. "If we put the focus on whether the president can make transit stops in US cities and whether he can step outside of the hotel where he is staying ? what kind of diplomacy is that? It's shameful diplomacy."

The continued uncertainty over whether President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will be able to stop in the US en route to Paraguay and Costa Rica yesterday generated heated debate at a meeting of the legislature's Foreign Affairs Committee.

Chen is scheduled to depart for Paraguay and Costa Rica tomorrow for a 10-day state visit.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Office were still unable to confirm whether Chen would make transit stops in the US, a routine Chen has followed in past visits to Central and South America.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Katharine Chang (張小月) yesterday was tight-lipped about where would Chen make his transit stops, saying the Presidential Office would make the announcement today.

Chang was responding to a question from People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華), who asked if Chen would stop in San Francisco en route to Paraguay and whether Chen's desire to make a transit stop in New York had been rejected by the US.

In other developments, Chang yesterday declined to comment on a media report that said Lin Cheng-wei (林成蔚), senior adviser to the National Security Council, was tipped to replace Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau (高英茂), who has been appointed the country's representative to the EU.

"I am not at all sure of this personnel change and this question should be answered by the foreign minister. But my previous experience interacting with Lin gives me the impression that Lin is a very skilled expert on Japanese affairs," Chang said.

The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper) yesterday reported that Lin, who previously served as the top aide to a former envoy to Japan, would become the next vice foreign minister to strengthen the management of relations with Japan.

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