Sun, May 27, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Visa waiver on track: Minister of Foreign Affairs

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan should be included in the US’ visa waiver program in the second half of this year, in line with the Taiwanese government’s original schedule, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) said yesterday.

The application and review procedures have been going smoothly, Yang said on the sidelines of an exhibition on African culture.

Yang’s remarks came after Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said on Friday at a tourism exposition that Taiwan is likely to be included in the program in October.

Wu was the first official to give a definite timeframe for the approval.

“The vice president’s statement concurred with our schedule, which is the second half of this year,” Yang said.

Asked if the US Congress has been notified of Taiwan’s application, Yang said that “there are certain procedures to go through,” adding that he cannot divulge further details due to an agreement with the US.

In March, US officials from the Department of Homeland Security visited Taiwan to review the country’s procedures for passport checks and border controls. The visit was a necessary part of Taiwan’s application for visa-free status from the US.

Taiwan obtained visa-waiver candidacy status last December. If included in the program, Taiwanese passport holders will be granted visa-free stays of up to 90 days. So far, 127 countries have granted visa waivers to Taiwan nationals.

Meanwhile, Yang said he is striving to communicate with Panama’s government over a “very regrettable” misunderstanding.

When Yang attended Panama’s presidential inauguration in January, he met with Panamanian Vice President Juan Carlos Varela, a move that angered Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, according to media reports.

At the time, Martinelli had fallen out with Varela, leader of the opposition party.

“I never intended to interfere with another country’s internal affairs,” he said, adding that with patience and sincerity, the misunderstanding should be fixed.

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