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Home The News News US lawmakers urge Harris to meet with Lai

US lawmakers urge Harris to meet with Lai

Six US lawmakers have sent a joint letter to US Vice President Kamala Harris, urging her to meet with Vice President William Lai (賴清德) during his stopovers in the US on the way to and from Paraguay next month.

Lai is to lead a delegation to attend the inauguration of Paraguayan president-elect Santiago Pena on Aug. 15.

While US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Lai is expected to “transit the United States on both the incoming and outgoing legs” of the trip, neither government has disclosed Lai’s itinerary in the US.

US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at an event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on Tuesday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

US Representative Tom Tiffany shared the letter, which was also signed by his Republican colleagues Andrew Ogles, Byron Donalds, Buddy Carter, Scott Perry and Scott DesJarlais, on the messaging platform X on Wednesday.

“We hope you will consider meeting personally with him during this stopover,” the letter said.

The US Congress passed the Taiwan Travel Act in 2018, which then-US senator Harris supported, to encourage high-level meetings between senior US officials and their Taiwanese counterparts, it said.

“Mr. Lai’s transit here in August will provide you with a key opportunity to make use of this law — and do as vice president what you voted for as a lawmaker,” it added.

The letter condemned China for its “reckless efforts to provoke a conflict in the Taiwan Strait” and its continual use of dollar diplomacy to restrict Taiwan’s international space, calling it “unacceptable.”

“Meeting with Vice President Lai would underscore the importance America affixes to the US-Taiwan friendship and make it clear that Beijing’s meddling in American foreign policy is unwelcome,” the letter said.

“It would also help Taiwan cement its remaining diplomatic partnerships and demonstrate that the [President Joe] Biden administration will not cower in the face of increasing Chinese belligerence and bullying,” it added.

In Taipei, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Jeff Liu (劉永健) said the government is thankful for US legislators across party lines, because they have long supported Taiwan.

Taiwan and the US are arranging the itinerary for Lai’s stopovers in the US and will make an announcement after it has been finalized, he said.

After Taiwan announced Lai’s trip, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had lodged a formal protest with Washington over “any visit by Taiwan separatists” and expressed its opposition to the US “indulging and supporting ... separatist activities.”

Blinken told reporters that “this is very routine, given the distances traveled, to have a transit point. And it is fully consistent with common practice.”

“There is no reason for the PRC [People’s Republic of China] to use this transit as a pretext for provocative action,” he added.


Source: Taipei Times - 2023/07/28



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