Ministry hopes for boost in US relations

TIES::A foreign ministry official said the ministry was hopeful for a resumption of US trade talks and urged travelers to adhere to the US Visa-Waiver Program’s regulations

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Nov 09, 2012 - Page 3

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has expressed its hope that the US revise the ban on visits by the foreign minister and defense minister to Washington, and other “outdated” rules governing bilateral exchanges between the two countries, a ministry official said yesterday.

Following the re-election of US President Barack Obama, the ministry expressed its hope that the US would provide more support for the nation’s bids to join international organizations, enhance its security commitments and continue to send high-ranking officials to Taiwan, as well as adjust some “outdated” rules that regulate bilateral relations, Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of North American Affairs, said at a regular press briefing.

Asked to elaborate on the “outdated” rules, Linghu cited as an example that the US does allow Taiwan’s foreign minister and defense minister to visit Washington.

“Despite the fact that the situation has improved a great deal, there remain some restrictions with regard to exchanges between government officials. Our foreign minister and defense minister can’t go to Washington because of issues of political sensitivity,” he said.

“We are expecting some adjustments to be made,” he said.

Linghu added that the ministry hopes the major bilateral trade talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) platform would be resumed as early as next year, if not by the end of this year.

TIFA negotiations have been suspended since 2007 due to disputes over US beef imports.

A US delegation comprising officials from various US agencies visited Taiwan last month to meet with local officials in preparation for a resumption of talks after Taiwan opened its doors to imports of beef containing traces of the feed additive ractopamine in September.

In other news, Linghu urged the public to be honest when applying for online travel authorization, a requirement for visiting the US under its Visa-Waiver Program (VWP).

He cited a case in which a Taiwanese who had planned to visit the US on the program was denied entry after lying about having been previously denied a US visa.

Under the program, Taiwanese business travelers and tourists who hold e-passports no longer need to obtain a visa to enter the US, but instead need to apply for travel authorization online, which allows multiple stays of up to 90 days over a two-year period.

In a reciprocal arrangement, Americans will now be able to visit Taiwan without a visa for up to 90 days instead of the previous maximum of 30 days, which is expected to boost business exchanges, Linghu said.

Additional reporting by CNA