Fri, Mar 13, 2015 - Page 3 News List

US congressional group set for talks during Taipei visit

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter, in WASHINGTON

The chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee is to visit Taipei this weekend for wide-ranging talks on security and trade.

US Representative Ed Royce is leading a bipartisan congressional delegation and is to meet with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

During the three-day visit beginning today, the delegation is to hold talks with leaders of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which are expected to center on Taiwan’s possible entry into the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, future arms sales, creating greater international space for Taiwan and on the possible impact of next year’s presidential election on bilateral relations.

Royce has been reluctant to discuss specific details of the talks, but they are almost sure to have influence on US legislation affecting Taiwan that comes before the committee later this year.

“I am pleased to be visiting Taiwan for a third time as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” Royce said in Washington before his departure.

He labeled himself as a “longtime friend” of Taiwan and said Taiwan-US relations are important to both sides.

While Taiwan is not part of the 12-nation negotiations to launch TPP, it hopes to join the pact in a second round of talks.

Royce supports Taiwanese membership in the trade pact, but Taipei would require unpopular changes to its trade laws.

US pork is to be discussed, although committee members were told by Minister of Economic Affairs Minister John Deng (鄧振中) — who was in Washington last month — that the ractopamine ban would not be lifted soon.

Arms talks are likely to concentrate on requested US technical aid for domestic submarines.

Royce is thought to favor helping with the submarines, but without support from US President Barack Obama, the legislators have limited power in this area.

However, the committee might have some success this year in helping to broaden Taiwan’s international presence. It is expected to push for Taiwan to be admitted to Interpol.

US Representative Matt Salmon has said that Taiwan’s exclusion from the organization leaves a major gap in regional security.

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