Thu, Aug 30, 2007 - Page 3 News List

President stays on the plane to protest transit restrictions

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) did not leave his airplane when it made a transit stop in Anchorage, Alaska, on the way back to Taipei yesterday. Instead he received Raymond Burghardt, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, on board the aircraft.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tang Bi-a (唐碧娥), a member of Chen's entourage, said Burghardt invited the president to disembark, telling Chen that "many people are waiting for you down there."

Tang said the president declined and told Burghardt that the US had caused him significant stress.

The US government had refused to allow Chen to make a stopover in any major US city other than Anchorage, or to stay overnight. Many have speculated that this was to express US displeasure with Chen's plan to push for a referendum on the country's bid to join the UN under the name "Taiwan."

On his first transit stop in Anchorage en route to Honduras last Tuesday, Chen said the restrictions placed on him by the US were "inconvenient, uncomfortable and indecent."

His second transit stop in Anchorage lasted less than an hour. The president's plane was scheduled to arrive at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport last night.

Chen departed last Tuesday on a three-country visit to Central America. The highlight of the trip was the sixth leadership summit between Taiwan and its diplomatic allies in the region. The summit was held last Thursday in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.

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