Congressional group did not ask to meet DPP, MOFA says

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 - Page 3

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday clarified a complaint from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) about it being left off the itinerary of a visiting US congressional delegation during their visit this week.

“Had the visiting guests expressed a wish to meet with the DPP, we would have made the arrangements for them,” Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), director-general of the Department of North American Affairs, said at a regular news briefing. “The ministry would never decline to set up a meeting with the DPP for our guests if such a request is made.”

On Wednesday, the DPP complained that the ministry did not inform it of the visit of a delegation led by US Senator James Inhofe, a co-chair of the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus who was recently elected to be the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

DPP officials on Wednesday said the party only learned of the visit from a newspaper report, and was unable to arrange a meeting between the delegation and DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) while the US lawmakers were in Taipei for 24 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The visit by the 19-member delegation, which included Senator John Boozman and US representatives Vern Buchanan, Erik Paulsen and Steve Pearce, was part of an Asia and Africa tour to discuss foreign affairs, security and trade issues.

The delegation’s itinerary was not organized by the ministry alone, Linghu said, adding that the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) was also involved.

The delegation did meet with DPP officials on two occasions, Linghu said. The first was during a luncheon hosted by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) on Tuesday that DPP Legislator Mark Chen (陳唐山) and some KMT lawmakers attended, while on Tuesday evening, Inhofe had a private meeting with friends and several party officials, including some members of the DPP, he said.

Later yesterday, Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠), head of the DPP’s Department of International Affairs, said: “We sincerely hope that the ministry was telling the true story, but past experiences suggested otherwise.”

The ministry should have asked the visitors if they wished to meet with the DPP, rather than shifting responsibility onto AIT and the guests, Liu said.

Additional reporting by Chris Wang