The US government has the right to decide whether to post military personnel at the new compound of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and whether to arm the officers, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) said at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.
The US has the right to freely appoint AIT staff members, including security personnel, because the building is considered an extension of US territory, Lee said in response to a legislator’s question.
The right is also stipulated in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, he said.
The AIT is a private entity established in 1979 to manage US relations with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
The office, currently in Taipei’s Daan District (大安), is to relocate to a new compound in Neihu District (內湖) later this year.
Last week, former AIT director Stephen Young said that the US would post marines at the new AIT compound to protect the mission.
The AIT has declined to comment on the matter, saying it does not “discuss specific security matters” concerning the protection of its facility.
Currently, US Marines are posted at 148 US overseas missions around the world to protect them and the personnel stationed there, according to information on the US Department of State’s Web site.
Since Taipei and Washington severed diplomatic ties in 1979, there have been no US Marines stationed at the AIT office.
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