A US congressional delegation arrived in Taiwan yesterday as part of an Asia trip to discuss security issues in the Asia-Pacific region, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said.
The delegation, led by Republican Rob Wittman, a member of the US House Armed Services Committee, will stay in Taiwan until tomorrow to “discuss regional security issues,” AIT’s public diplomacy section chief Sheila Paskman said.
During its trip to Taiwan, the US delegation, comprising of four representatives, is scheduled to meet with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and National Security Council Secretary-General Jason Yuan (袁健生), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The group, which will focus on security matters throughout its Asia visit, is also scheduled to travel to Japan, Paskman said.
The AIT represents US interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the largest US tourism delegation to ever visit Taiwan is currently in the country to encourage more Taiwanese travelers to visit the US, the organizers said.
“This is the best timing, since Taiwan has just been included in the US Visa-Waiver Program (VWP),” said Daniel Shen, executive director of East and West Marketing Corp, which is organizing the event.
An increased number of groups and independent travelers are expected to travel to the US now that Taiwan has been included in the program, Shen said.
Shen said he hoped that travel operators in the US can “take advantage [of the program] to boost tourism.”
The 40 members of the delegation come from state governments, city governments, theme parks, hotels, shopping malls, travel agents and other tourism-related companies, Shen said.
The itinerary for the delegation’s visit, which concludes today, includes sightseeing trips and meetings with local tour operators.
Meanwhile, during a separate meeting with an Australian parliamentary delegation led by Australian politician Harry Jenkins, Ma said he hoped to strengthen the already close ties between Taiwan and Australia.
Ma said bilateral trade between the two countries was US$14.56 billion last year, with each nation being the 10th largest trading partner of the other.
Taiwan is also Australia’s sixth biggest export market, while the number of Taiwanese tourists to Australia totaled 88,000 last year.
Another 13,000 Taiwanese are in Australia on working holiday programs and 8,400 Taiwanese students are studying there.