Sun, Jan 20, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Foreign ministry mum on possible New York transit

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ emblem is displayed at the ministry in Taipei on Jan. 1.

Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday remained mum after it was reported that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) planned to make two state visits to the nation’s diplomatic allies this year, with the government reportedly aiming for the politically significant US city of New York as the transit stop for her second trip.

Citing an anonymous source, the Chinese-language Apple Daily newspaper yesterday reported that the ministry is planning two state visits for Tsai, one in the first half of the year and another in the second half.

For her first trip, Tsai is to travel to Palau, Nauru and Kiribati, the three diplomatic allies in the South Pacific that she has not yet visited since taking office in May 2016, the report said.

The decision was made in light of visits to Taiwan by Palauan President Tommy Remengesau and Nauruan President Baron Divavesi Waqa in November last year and earlier this month respectively, the reports said.

With regard to the second trip, the report said that the ministry is planning for Tsai to visit Haiti, as well as Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Our side is going to communicate with the US and hope that New York, which is not far away from Washington and carries certain political significance, could be chosen as the transit stop, which would be seen as a breakthrough during Tsai’s first term,” the report said, citing the anonymous source.

The Tsai administration also hopes that activities that could be counted as “diplomatic breakthroughs” would be planned for the transit, it said.

Former presidents Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) transited through New York during their terms.

The report also quoted an anonymous government official as saying that, as Tsai’s road to re-election might be a bumpy one considering the results of the local elections, good performance during her state visits would have a positive effect if she decided to run for re-election.

In response, the ministry yesterday said that arranging state visits for the president has always been one of its key missions.

“It is part of the ministry’s plan to continue to arrange state visits for the president,” it said, adding that media reports on the matter were merely based on speculation and the Presidential Office would make an announcement if and when there are concrete plans.

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