Fri, Feb 02, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Hsieh remains mum on presidential ambition

KEEPING QUIET The former premier remained coy when asked about his plans for next year, but he did drop a hint of sorts when questioned about possible policy platforms

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) arrived in Washington on Wednesday to attend yesterday's National Prayer Breakfast as President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) envoy, but remained mum about whether he plans to run in the presidential election next year.

Speaking with reporters after arriving by train from New York, Hsieh would not say whether he would seek the Democratic Progressive Party's presidential nomination in its primary later this year.

But he hinted at plans to make a bid to secure the nomination, in comments that expanded on a television interview he granted earlier this week in which he said he was considering a presidential run.

Asked about his possible policies and platform should he run, Hsieh said he would "wait until he becomes a candidate" before talking about that.

`Months away'

Because the primary is still months away and his chances of winning were hard to predict, "it is still too early to comment on that," he said, according to an English translation of remarks he made in Mandarin.

Nevertheless, he said he was "optimistic about everything," when asked by reporters whether he expected US officials to treat him as a presidential candidate, similar to the treatment accorded to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) when he came to Washington last March.

Hsieh said that while in Washington he would like to meet members of the Taiwanese-American community, but denied that he would try to organize a campaign committee.

Hsieh wanted to meet the groups simply "because they are Taiwanese and really care about Taiwan," and they wished to meet him, he said.

During his three days in Washington, Hsieh said he planned to meet with US government officials and a large number of congressmen. But he would not give details.

Earlier plans for a public presentation at the Brookings Institution think tank, however, were canceled after Hsieh decided he did not want to hold any public events.

Hsieh denied he was carrying a message from Chen to US President George W. Bush, adding that even if he were carrying one, he would not talk about it in public.

In his discussions with officials, Hsieh told the reporters, he would have to talk about the defense budget and the deadlock over the US arms sales package.

He said the US may not understand why the Legislative Yuan "could not put national security above partisan fighting, but that's what happens in Taiwan and it's difficult for people to understand."

"It's difficult to explain to the Americans, but we have to address this problem here in Washington," he said.

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