Thu, Aug 02, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Bush administration denies new policy on high-level visits

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The administration of US President George W. Bush on Tuesday voiced its opposition to a resolution approved by the US House of Representatives that called on the administration to allow President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and other top-level Taiwan officials to visit Washington freely for discussions on matters of joint concern.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey expressed the administration's position in response to a question during his regular daily press briefing.

"There have been some moves on Capitol Hill about issues related to travel of Taiwanese officials, but they aren't matters that have been supported by the administration," Casey said.

He was referring to the "sense of Congress" resolution, approved by the House by a voice vote that went unopposed, which states that restrictions on US visits by high-level, elected and appointed Taiwanese officials be lifted and that direct high-level exchanges at the cabinet level be allowed.

The issue came up at the State Department press briefing in the wake of a new Chinese warning to the US about allowing visits by Taiwanese officials, and in light of reports of a possible US transit by Chen en route to and from Latin American allies next month.

Casey told reporters he was not aware of any travel plans by Taiwanese officials.

"When individuals are traveling from Taiwan to the United States, there's a long-standing US policy on that. I don't view that as anything that's likely to change, nor do I recall there being any particular reason why this might have come up recently," he said.

While the US has generally allowed Chen to transit through US cities in his trips to Latin America, the details have often had to be worked out after arduous negotiations.

These negotiations usually hinge on the department's attitude toward policy positions taken by Chen.

Last year, the department limited Chen to a stop in Alaska, which Chen ultimately rejected. In January he was allowed to stop in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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