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AIT board chairman to visit Taiwan, meet with president

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman of the Board of Trustees Raymond Burghardt will arrive Taipei Sunday for a five-day tour, the AIT said yesterday.

While in Taiwan, the AIT head will meet with President Ma Ying-jeou and a variety of major political and business figures. In addition, he will visit southern city of Kaohsiung for meetings with AIT and local officials in the south of Taiwan, the AIT said in a released statement.

The visit will mark Burghardt's 15th trip to Taiwan since his appointment as AIT's chairman in February of 2006. Burghardt last visited Taiwan this January to bring news on behalf of U.S. government that the long-stalled Taiwan-U.S. trade talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) would resume in March.

The AIT chief's upcoming visit comes at a sensitive moment.

On Nov. 23, Beijing established an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that includes the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), which are also claimed by both China and Japan, a move that drew intense protests by Japan and the U.S, and concern from Taiwanese authorities.

Burghardt was the director of AIT's Taipei office from 1999 to 2001.

His career in public servic has included assignments as the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam and as the U.S. Consul General in Shanghai, as well as postings to U.S. embassies in Asia and Latin America. In Washington, he served on the staff of the National Security Council, the AIT said.

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