Sun, Oct 01, 2006 - Page 3 News List

US officials urge Bush to lift ban on Taiwan visits

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA, WASHINGTON

A group of US Congress members have urged US President George W. Bush to lift a ban on high-level visits between Taiwan and the US to facilitate direct communication with Taiwan's democratically elected leaders.

The members of congress made the call in a letter addressed to Bush this week.

They include Democratic Representative Robert Andrews of New Jersey and Republican representatives Steve Chabot of Ohio, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Dana Rohrabacher of California, Pete Sessions of Texas and Tom Tancredo of Colorado.

They described the US State Department's "Guidelines on Relations with Taiwan," which bans high-level visits, as "outdated" and having "no sound legal or political basis," adding that the guidelines were adopted in the late 1970s when Taiwan was still ruled by a regime which claimed to represent all of China.

"The transition towards democracy in Taiwan has changed all that: There is now a democratically elected government, which legitimately represents the people of Taiwan," they said.

They said that while US officials sit down with the unelected leaders of a country that is threatening its neighbors, there is every reason for US leaders to sit down with the democratic leaders of the country that is being threatened.

"We should not let Beijing dictate whom we can or cannot welcome to Washington," they said.

They added that despite its transition to a vibrant democracy, Taiwan was still being isolated in the international community owing to China's pressure.

"We believe the United States can and should do more to help Taiwan become a full and equal member of the international community. A first step would be to have direct communications and meetings between top US officials and the democratically elected leaders of Taiwan," they said.

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