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US EPA head plans to visit Taiwan: AIT

TAIPEI--U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy plans to visit Taiwan “at a later time,” but there is no visit planned for now, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said yesterday.

If a visit does take place, McCarthy would be the first U.S. Cabinet-level official to travel to Taiwan since in at least 13 years.

AIT spokesman Mark Zimmer told CNA there is no visit planned at this time. However, he said “Administrator McCarthy plans to visit Taiwan at a later time.”

Zimmer's comments came after an online news report by the United Evening News that quoted an unnamed source as saying that visiting AIT Chairman Raymond F. Burghardt admitted during a dinner with Taiwanese lawmakers on Wednesday that a planned visit by McCarthy this week had been cancelled due to the Taiwanese media's reporting about the trip.

Whether McCarthy will visit Taiwan this week has been an issue widely reported in the Taiwanese media.

Various local media outlets reported Wednesday morning that McCarthy would come to Taiwan Friday, but the United Evening News followed up later in the same day with a report saying the visit had been canceled.

U.S. officials were unhappy that the media had reported about the trip before McCarthy was set to arrive in Taiwan, the paper said.

But Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Anna Kao said a day earlier that there was no visit planned, echoing the statement from Zimmer.

Foreign Minister David Lin also stressed that his ministry had not leaked anything and that the U.S. was not in any way unhappy with Taiwan.

On Thursday, Zimmer also said that “the U.S. and Taiwan have a long-standing partnership in environmental protection.”

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