Fri, Jun 22, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Lu's US stopover to be finalized next week

ITINERARY IN FLUX The vice president will visit Paraguay next month to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic ties with that nation. Where else she goes has yet to be decided

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) plan to stop over in the US on the way to visit Latin America is expected to be finalized next week, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials said yesterday.

According to ministry spokesman David Wang (王建業), Lu will visit Paraguay early next month to take part in activities marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Paraguay, and is planning to visit two Central American countries with diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

The ministry is targeting the Dominican Republic and Panama as possible destinations, but details of Lu's itinerary have yet to be finalized, officials said.

Hsueh Mei-yu (薛美瑜), deputy director-general of the Department of North American Affairs, said Taiwan filed an application with Washington two weeks ago for Lu's plan to make transit stops in the US for the Latin American trip.

The US government is expected to reply to the application within the next week, Hsueh said.

Asked if Taiwan's plan to push for a referendum on the country's bid for UN membership despite US opposition will affect Lu's transit plans, Hsueh said she could not speculate how the US would act.

Noting that there is an established procedure for the arrangement of US transit plans for Taiwanese leaders, Hsueh said she believes the US government will process Taiwan's application based on the principles of comfort, convenience, security and dignity for the traveler.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has unveiled a plan to push for a referendum alongside next year's presidential election on Taiwan's effort to apply to join the UN under the name of "Taiwan."

Although the US government has expressed its opposition to the plan and warned that the move would escalate tension across the Taiwan Strait, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has insisted on proceeding with the plan.

In related news, DPP Legislator Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) yesterday said DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) upcoming visit to the US would be helpful in discussing the UN referendum bid with the US.

Hsu was responding to a report in yesterday's Chinese-language China Times, which said Washington might demand Hsieh make some commitments during his US trip in the wake of Chen's referendum plans.

Hsu said Hsieh is expected to discuss the differing opinions on the referendum issue between Taiwan and the US.

"[The trip to the US] will offer a good chance for Hsieh to communicate with the US and the referendum proposal has not had a negative impact on the trip so far," Hsu said.

Hsieh will start his 10-day trip to the US on July 20. He will visit New York, Washington, Detroit and Los Angeles. He will spend three days in Washington.

Aside from giving a speech at the National Press Club and attending a reception with US Congress members, Hsieh is expected to meet privately with US politicians.

Hsu refused to reveal details of the private arrangements.

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