Thu, Oct 19, 2017 - Page 3 News List

No chance of Tsai-Trump meeting on trip: minister

LEVERAGE?Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee said Washington has repeatedly given Taiwan reassurances that it would not be sacrificed for better US-China ties

Staff writer, with CNA

There is no chance that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will meet with US President Donald Trump during a possible transit stop in Hawaii on an upcoming trip to Pacific island diplomatic allies, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) said yesterday.

The White House announced earlier this week that Trump is scheduled to stop in Hawaii before a Nov. 3 to Nov. 14 trip to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Tsai is scheduled to visit three of the nation’s diplomatic allies in the Pacific — the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands — from Saturday next week to Nov. 4.

Local media have reported that Tsai could make a stopover in Hawaii before or after visiting the three countries, with some even speculating that there was a possibility she could meet with Trump during a transit stop there.

Asked by reporters to confirm the possibility, Lee gave a firm “no.”

Lee later told lawmakers at a legislative hearing that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has no such plan and that there was “zero possibility” of Tsai and Trump being in Hawaii at the same time.

He reiterated that the government was still unable to officially announce the transit stops for Tsai’s trip because Washington has remained focused on arranging Trump’s trip to Asia.

Lee on Monday said that he was hoping for a quick resolution to the matter, possibly by Tuesday, but that did not materialize.

Aside from Hawaii, there has also been speculation that Tsai could make a stopover in Guam.

In accordance with established practice, Taipei and Washington simultaneously announce transit stops in US territory to be made by Taiwan’s president during overseas trips.

Asked if Taiwan could become a bargaining chip used by Washington to strengthen ties with Beijing when Trump visits China next month, Lee said the US has repeatedly given Taipei reassurances that “such a situation will not happen.”

However, he said that Taipei would remain on high alert and pay close attention to the possible effects of the expected meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

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