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June 26, 2017

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Embassy responds to media reports of misconduct by ex-Navy commander

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Officials have confirmed that a Navy rear admiral behaved unprofessionally after getting drunk at a banquet in the Solomon Islands, but Taiwan's embassy in the Pacific country denied Wednesday that he had harassed women — including the wife of the Taiwanese ambassador — as suggested by media reports.

The Republic of China embassy to the Solomon Islands said in a statement that Rear Adm. Lee Tung-fang, commander of the Fleet of Friendship, attended a dinner party in the country April 28 held by the local Taiwanese business council.

It was attended by more than 60 people including Navy officers and embassy staff, as well as personnel from Taiwan's medical and agricultural missions there, the embassy said.

While the embassy said guests were in high spirits, it stressed there was "absolutely no instance of Commander Lee speaking or behaving inappropriately or harassing female guests as reported by newspapers."

"Moreover, there was no incident of impoliteness toward the wife of the ambassador as claimed by the reports," the embassy said.

It went on to praise the Fleet of Friendship for its combat skills and discipline, saying the visit won praise from the Solomon government and people.

The embassy's statement came a day after the Navy confirmed Lee had been given two reprimands and a transfer to Navy Command for speaking indiscreetly while drunk.

The Navy said in a news release Tuesday night that Lee had reflected on his conduct and apologized to relevant parties.

The Navy stressed that it regrets Lee's indiscretion and will step up campaigns for all officers to keep themselves in check to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

It also said the Fleet of Friendship, returned in May from its 45-day goodwill visit to Palau, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati — all diplomatic allies of Taiwan — to visit overseas citizens and conduct deep-sea training.

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