People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) is to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) tomorrow at her office to hash out the details of his mission as her representative at next week’s APEC summit, a source close to the Presidential Office said.
In addition to being assigned to share a forum with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Soong is expected to talk to Southeast Asian leaders to discuss Tsai’s “new southbound policy,” the source said.
Arrangements to secure bilateral talks with ASEAN leaders of interest to Tsai’s policy are still in negotiations, the source said.
The meeting — which is to be held in Lima, Peru — is themed “quality growth and human development,” with ministerial meetings to be held on Thursday and Friday next week, and leaders’ dialogues on Saturday and Sunday next week.
Soong is scheduled to leave for Lima on Tuesday next week and return on Nov. 23, with a layover in New York.
He is to lead a delegation that includes National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tseng Hou-jen (曾厚仁), Minister of Economic Affairs Lee Chih-kung (李世光) and National Development Council Minister Chen Tain-jy (陳添枝) — a lineup of officials comparable to Taiwan’s past APEC delegations, the source said.
Soong is not scheduled to meet any US officials during his stop in New York, the source said, adding that EVA Air was chosen to ferry the delegation, as its flight schedule best matched the timetable, and that the delegation would travel from New York to Lima on a chartered flight.
It is rare for Taiwan to be assigned to a forum with major states such as Russia and Canada, and the Presidential Office views Soong’s attendance at the forum with Trudeau and Putin a major diplomatic breakthrough, the source said.
Taiwanese diplomats are in contact with their counterparts from every ASEAN member state — including Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam — to secure audiences for Soong with their leaders, the source said.
“We aim to secure any contact that is beneficial to Taiwan,” the source said.
As to the possibility of Soong meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the source said it is customary for Japan’s prime minister and Taiwan’s presidential envoy to meet for bilateral discussions during APEC meetings, adding that last year, the nation’s envoy, former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), met with Abe.
PFP Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞), who is to accompany Soong on the trip, rejected speculation that Soong and Abe might talk about Taipei’s ban on food products produced in five Japanese prefectures affected by the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster.
Soong has communicated with Beijing through unofficial channels and has sent feelers to Peru to collect relevant information ahead of the talks, said a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding that the intelligence collected thus far suggests that Soong will be able to make the trip as planned.
Additional reporting by Tseng Wei-cheng
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