President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) exchanged greetings with US first lady Laura Bush at the inauguration ceremony for Costa Rican President Oscar Arias in the Central American nation's capital on Monday, extending an invitation for her to visit Taiwan.
Chen also asked the first lady to extend his best regards to US President George W. Bush, according to David Lee (李南陽), director-general of the Presidential Office's Department of Public Affairs, who is accompanying Chen on his Latin American trip.
During Arias' inauguration ceremony, Chen sat between Salvadoran President Antonio Saca and Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos in the first row. The US first lady was seated in the second row to Chen's left.
Speaking to the media about Chen's interaction with the first lady, Lee said Chen approached Bush prior to the start of the ceremony to shake hands.
The two had a short conversation that lasted about one minute before Chen returned to his seat, he said.
After the ceremony ended, Chen approached the first lady again and invited her to pose with him for a photo, Lee added.
Asked whether the two had talked about the stopover matter, Lee said that according to protocol for such occasions, the two only exchanged greetings.
The Taiwanese delegation was one of the largest among the more than 70 foreign special missions attending the grand inauguration ceremony.
After the inauguration ceremony, Chen attended a state banquet hosted by Arias. Chen also met with several US congressmen at his hotel.