A delegation of six high-ranking US lawmakers yesterday arrived in Taipei for a one-day visit as part of their Asia tour.
US Senator Lindsey Graham, who is ranking member of the US Senate Budget Committee, is leading the delegation, which also includes US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, a Democrat, and Republican senators Richard Burr, Ben Sasse and Rob Portman.
Republican Representative Ronny Jackson is the only US House of Representatives member on the visit.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Burr is ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, while Portman is ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
The group touched down at 7:40pm at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) on a US military aircraft, where they were received by Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a news release welcoming the visitors.
Before departing today, they are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) to “exchange views on various important issues related to Taiwan-US relations,” the ministry said.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
They are also to attend a banquet organized by Wu, it said.
This is the first US congressional delegation to visit Taiwan this year, after a trip reportedly planned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week was canceled after she tested positive for COVID-19.
The group is on an Asia tour as US lawmakers gradually resume international travel after years of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Graham took the initiative to include Taiwan on the itinerary to “demonstrate the high regard and firm support US lawmakers from both parties have for Taiwan,” the ministry said.
Also yesterday, a visiting Swedish and European parliamentary delegation held a news conference in Taipei before their scheduled departure in the evening.
The representatives emphasized their unified support for Taiwan, despite representing a vast coalition of parties.
The visit was to send a signal of support from Europe to Taiwan, and to make sure “such signal is heard all across the Taiwan Strait,” Member of the European Parliament Charlie Weimers said.
“We want to let Beijing know that, over in Europe, we know Taiwan and care for Taiwan,” Weimers said.
Swedish Parliament Deputy Speaker Kerstin Lundgren said she was warned by Beijing not to visit, but added that the message only proved the need to support Taiwan.
Lundgren said that her chamber would soon debate changing the name of Sweden’s representation in Taiwan in an effort to “scale up” the office.
Currently named the “Swedish Trade and Invest Council,” the parliamentarians next week would debate renaming the office “House of Sweden,” which is also the name for the country’s embassy in Washington.
The change would show that the entity promotes other bilateral links besides just business, Lundgren said.
Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) also met with the Swedish and European delegation earlier in the day to thank them for their support.
Additional reporting by CNA
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