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MOFA defends DPP's 'exclusion' from US group talks

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday denied that it deliberately excluded an opposition party from meeting a visiting U.S. congressional delegation that concluded its trip earlier this week.

Bruce Linghu, director-general of MOFA's Department of North American Affairs, said that the delegation, led by Senator James Inhofe, proposed its own itinerary, and that the ministry simply made the requested arrangements.

“The U.S. delegation did not propose to meet Taiwan's opposition party during its stay here,” he noted.

The ministry also did not arrange the American congressmen to meet with any other local political parties, including the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), as the delegation only stopped in Taiwan for two days, Linghu added.

The remarks came in response to reports yesterday that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has criticized the ministry for excluding the party from the delegation's itinerary.

“Since the ministry did not inform the DPP of the visit, the party could not arrange a meeting between the delegation and DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌),” party spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) was quoted as saying Wednesday.

According to MOFA, Senator Inhofe, who was recently elected by Republican Senate Armed Services Committee members to be the panel's new ranking member, led a 19-member delegation, including Senator John Boozman and U.S. representatives Vern Buchanan, Erik Paulsen and Steve Pearce, during their Taiwan tour on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The delegation met President Ma Ying-jeou, National Security Council Secretary-General Jason Yuan (袁健生) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).

Though the delegation did not have an official meeting with opposition party members, Inhofe met with Taiwanese friends during his brief stay in Taipei as part of his private schedule, Linghu said.

“Some of his friends are opposition party members,” he added.

Linghu, however, did not disclose who the U.S. senator met during his private meetings, saying only it was his personal plans and no MOFA or American Institute in Taiwan officials were present during the meeting.

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