Tue, May 02, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Reuters apologizes over ‘misunderstanding’

Staff writer, with CNA

Reuters news agency has apologized to Taiwan over a misunderstanding stemming from last week’s interview with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), during which she was asked about the possibility of another telephone call with US President Donald Trump, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) said yesterday.

In the interview, which was published on Thursday with the headline “Taiwan president says phone call with Trump can take place again,” Reuters quoted Tsai as saying that “we don’t exclude the opportunity to call President Trump himself, but it depends on the needs of the situation and the US government’s consideration of regional affairs.”

Trump, in a Reuters interview published on Friday with the headline “Trump spurns Taiwan president’s suggestion of another phone call,” said that he does not want to create problems for Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) when Beijing appears to be helping efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Trump’s response has been described as a “slap in the face” to Tsai, and some Taiwanese have criticized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which arranged the interview, as having poor judgement and allowing itself to be “set up” by the news agency.

Some Democratic Progressive Party members accused Reuters of misinterpreting Tsai’s words, as she gave the interview in Mandarin, while others suggested that the agency had been bought off by China to set up Tsai’s apparent “humiliation” by Trump.

In response to media queries, Lee said Reuters had submitted a list of questions in advance, but the one about a possible repeat of the telephone call between Tsai and Trump was not on the list.

After the interview, Reuters expressed its regrets and apologized to the ministry, Lee said.

He said Reuters officials told the ministry that they “feel embarrassed,” saying the agency’s Asian bureau was unaware its Washington bureau had scheduled an interview with Trump right after the one with Tsai.

Asked about the matter during a legislative hearing, the minister said although the question was raised unexpectedly, Tsai’s answer was well-considered and circumspect.

He said Washington was concerned over Tsai’s comment about the possibility of calling Trump until the ministry provided them with a full transcript of the interview.

Tsai called Trump on Dec. 2 last year, less than a month after his election as US president, to offer her congratulations, the first known contact of its kind since the two nations severed diplomatic ties in 1979.

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