Ma pitches for Taiwan-U.S. extradition pact in L.A. stop
May 28, 2009, 9:38 am TWN
LOS ANGELES -- President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated Taiwan's hopes of signing an extradition agreement with the United States and securing visa-free treatment for Taiwan tourists, during a low-profile transit stop in Los Angeles, sources said Wednesday.
Ma made the pitch during a meeting with American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt at the hotel where the president is staying during his overnight layover en route to Belize for a state visit.
Ma was reported to have exchanged views with Burghardt, the top U.S. liaison officer with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties,on the Taiwan government's policy goals of signing an extradition accord with the United States and convincing the U.S. to grant visa-free privilege to Taiwan tourists.
Ma held the closed-door talks with Burghardt shortly after the large presidential delegation arrived in Los Angeles Tuesday evening.
Later in the day, Ma also met with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and several other American politicians, including House of Representatives members Ed Royce and Brad Sherman,for wide-ranging talks.
In addition, Ma had telephone conversations with Phil Gingrey, a co-chair of the U.S. Congressional Taiwan Caucus, and John Ensign, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. The president asked them to help push Taiwan's cause and invited them to visit Taiwan later this year.
Ma also hosted a dinner to entertain Taiwanese expatriates living on the U.S. West Coast. Many American politicians also attended the dinner to welcome Ma and his entourage.
Addressing the dinner guests, Ma said that Taiwan has gradually recovered from its worst-ever economic downturn caused by a bruising global recession and that Taiwan's national sovereignty and dignity have not been compromised in his administration's pursuit of better relations with China.
Ma also said he has proved that his "flexible diplomacy" policy is workable, judging from the increasing improvements in cross-Taiwan Strait relations and the acceptance of Taiwan's bid for observer status at the World Health Assembly last week following 12 years of efforts to take part in the annual event.
Ma and his entourage will depart for Belize Wednesday noon for a state visit.
Ma upheld his "low-key and surprise-free" principle during his layover in Los Angeles by avoiding any public activities.
This is Ma's second diplomatic tour since he assumed the presidency May 20, 2008. The trip will also take him to Guatemala and El Salvador where he will attend the inauguration of Salvadoran President-elect Mauricio Funes on June 1.
Ma will depart El Salvador June 2 for Seattle, where he will stay overnight before returning to Taipei June 4.