Timothy Yang lobbies US representatives in Miami

CHIT CHAT::The foreign minister said topics discussed with the two congressmen included Taiwan’s plan to purchase F-16C/D jets and the elections on Saturday

Staff Writer, with CNA

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 - Page 2

Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) met two US representatives during a recent transit stop in Miami to lobby their support for the F-16C/D aircraft procurement plan, diplomatic sources said on Sunday.

On Thursday, Yang met with Republican representatives Mario Diaz-Balart, a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Taiwan Caucus, and David Rivera, a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, during a transit stop on his way to St Lucia, the sources said.

During their meeting, Yang said Taiwan must have a strong military to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait, citing former US president Ronald Reagan, who famously said that the US should maintain peace through strength.

Yang thanked the two representatives for their support for Taiwan’s arms procurement projects in the past and expressed the hope that they would continue to support the nation’s bid to procure advanced F-16C/Ds.

In response, Diaz-Balart and Rivera promised to push the US administration to deliver on its security commitments to Taiwan, including the sale of the F-16C/Ds, the sources said.

Yang also exchanged views with the two on a range of issues of mutual concern, such as developments in East Asia, the Republican presidential primaries and Saturday’s elections in Taiwan.

They all agreed that the US should strengthen its defense force in the West Pacific area to cement regional peace and democratic development, and that priority should be given to maintaining cross-strait peace and stability, the sources said.

Both Diaz-Balart and Rivera have on many occasions backed the nation’s bids to join major international organizations and activities, and have signed joint letters to push the US executive branch to sell Taiwan F-16C/Ds.

Yang’s visit to St Lucia from last Thursday through Sunday was the first stop in a series of official visits that are also scheduled to take him to three of Taiwan’s other diplomatic allies — Nicaragua, Guatemala and Gambia.

The foreign minister will attend presidential inauguration ceremonies for Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega today, Guatemalan president-elect Otto Perez on Saturday and Gambian President Yahya J.J. Jammeh on Jan. 19. He is scheduled to return home on Jan. 21.