Vice President William Lai (賴清德) is to serve as President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) envoy at the inauguration of Honduran president-elect Xiomara Castro on Thursday next week, the Presidential Office said yesterday.
It would be the first time that Lai travels overseas since he took office in May 2020.
Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said that Lai is to lead a delegation of 26 people, who are to depart Taipei on Tuesday next week.
The delegation would depart Tegucigalpa on Friday next week and arrive back in Taiwan on Sunday next week, Chang said.
The delegation would transit in a third country, he said, without specifying when or disclosing the location, although Chinese-language media reported that the delegation would stop in Los Angeles.
Among the delegation would be Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) and pandemic prevention experts, Chang said.
He did not say why Lai rather than Tsai herself is to attend the ceremony.
Asked about the stopover, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Yui (俞大㵢), who is responsible for Latin American affairs, refused to provide more details.
Arrangements are being made with authorities at the planned transit location and it would be made public soon, Yui said.
Lai might face issues if the stopover is in the US, because authorities there require visitors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with an approved vaccine.
Lai was vaccinated with the Taiwan-made Medigen vaccine, which is not yet on the US’ list of accepted COVID-19 vaccines.
Asked about the situation, Yui would only say that Lai would fully cooperate with local COVID-19 prevention measures.
All members of the delegation would follow COVID-19 prevention protocols throughout the trip, such as undergoing tests for the virus before and after the visit, Chang said.
After returning to Taiwan, Lai and the others would quarantine for 14 days and follow self-health management protocols for another seven days, Chang said.
While in Honduras, Yui said that Lai is expected to interact with foreign dignitaries at the ceremony, including US Vice President Kamala Harris, who is to lead a US delegation.
Lai would meet with Castro to convey Tsai’s congratulations and discuss matters related to bilateral ties, Yui said.
Castro’s win in the Nov. 28 presidential election made her the first female president of the Central American country, which first established diplomatic ties with Taiwan more than 80 years ago.
The victory of the 62-year-old wife of ousted former Honduran president Jose Manuel Zelaya had previously raised concerns about Honduran ties with Taiwan, as she said during her campaign that she might switch recognition to China if she won.
However, two senior members of Castro’s transition team last month said that the incoming government would maintain diplomatic ties with Taipei.
Also last month, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Castro’s team had promised that Honduras’ diplomatic ties with Taiwan would remain unchanged.
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