AIT confirms ex-US official's visit following election
January 16, 2016, 12:13 am TWN
TAIPEI -- Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns will visit Taiwan after Saturday's presidential election to convey U.S. support for Taiwan's prosperity and Washington's interest in peace across the Taiwan Strait, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said Friday.
"As we have done previously following a Taiwan presidential election, the U.S. government has asked a senior statesman to travel in his private capacity to Taiwan," said AIT spokeswoman Sonia Urbom. The AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of bilateral diplomatic relations.
"Burns will deliver messages on behalf of the U.S. government in his private capacity," she told CNA.
Burns, who is currently president of the Washington-based think tank the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, will travel to Taipei Jan. 17, Urbom said.
Accompanied by AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt, Burns will meet with several Taiwanese political figures and convey Washington's support for Taiwan's continued prosperity and growth, as well as its longstanding interest in cross-Taiwan Strait peace and stability, she added.
"I anticipate that Ambassador Burns will speak with authorities about the importance the United States places on its relationship with Taiwan, continued cross-strait peace and stability, and a smooth transition to a new administration," Urbom said.
Also Friday, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomes the upcoming visit by Burns and Burghardt.
It is a precedent that the U.S. government sends a representative to Taiwan following a presidential election to offer congratulations on the completion of a democratic election, said Eleanor Wang, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry.
Tsai Ing-wen, presidential candidate and chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said that she appreciates the U.S.'s attention to Taiwan's elections. Like many others, the DPP also hopes for continued peaceful development of the cross-strait ties and will work jointly to maintain peace in the strait, she said.
Sources in Washington confirmed that Burns will meet with President Ma Ying-jeou and chiefs of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the DPP.
The two party chiefs — Eric Chu of the KMT and Tsai of the DPP — are also major candidates in the presidential election.
The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Beijing as part of a trip to Asia from Jan. 14-21.
While in Beijing, he will hold talks with Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council and China's top official responsible for relations with Taiwan.