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June 24, 2017

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Mango symbolizes fruitful Taiwan-US bond: AIT director

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The de facto United States ambassador to Taiwan yesterday used mangoes to symbolize the enduring friendship between Taipei and Washington during an U.S. Independence Day celebration in Taipei.

"As we commemorate America's 237th birthday, let us also celebrate the fruits of our long-running cooperation and friendship," American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Christopher Marut said.

Speaking of fruit, the AIT head said he recently visited a mango farmer surnamed Cheng in the southern city of Tainan.

"Fifty years ago, Cheng grafted samplings from Irwin mango trees raised in Florida onto Taiwan mango trees," Marut said.

"This experiment, assisted at that time by the United States Agency for International Development, later resulted in the successful commercial production of Irwin (愛文) mangoes throughout Southern Taiwan.

"So these delicious mangoes are literally a fruit of the strong ties of partnership between the U.S. and Taiwan," he added.

Delivering his address entirely in Mandarin, Marut said bilateral relations between Taiwan and the U.S. have seen significant improvement in recent years, especially with Taiwan's entry into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in 2012.

The decision has greatly simplified travel for business and tourism and is creating new opportunities to expand economic growth and enhance mutual understanding, he said.

Trade relations have also seen a major step forward with the resumption of talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) this past March, Marut said.

He added that the AIT, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties, looks forward to continuing to work with the Taiwan government to nurture, protect and promote the values of freedom, respect for the dignity of individuals and economic and environmental progress.

It was Marut's first Independence Day reception since he took office as head of the AIT in Taipei last year.

TIFA, VWP Good for Ties

During the reception, Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂), who attended the reception on behalf of the Republic of China government, gave a toast to celebrate the occasion.

He thanked the U.S. for the resumption of bilateral TIFA talks, saying that the move could help Taiwan in signing free trade agreements with other countries.

Lin also noted that the VWP will continue to boost mutual relations and enhance ties in various ways.

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