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Senior U.S. official to visit Taiwan to discuss economic ties

2012/09/20 17:02:38

Taipei, Sept. 20 (CNA) A senior U.S. economics official will visit Taiwan next week to discuss bilateral economic ties, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said in a statement released Thursday.

Atul Keshap, U.S. representative to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and Coordinator for Economic Policy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, is scheduled to meet with government officials to discuss economic matters during his Sept. 23-25 visit, the AIT said.

He will also deliver an economic policy speech Sept. 25 in Taipei, according to the statement.

Asked whether Keshap's visit is related to re-opening long-stalled Taiwan-U.S. talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), AIT spokesman Mark Zimmer said that "there's no specific link at this time to TIFA."

The official's visit to Taiwan is for general economic discussions, he added.

The announcement of Keshap's visit came after a Sept. 9 meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Taiwan's representative to the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, Lien Chan.

During that meeting, Clinton said she would send Keshap to Taiwan to consult on further broadening bilateral economic relations.

In response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed Keshap's visit, which it said will help advance bilateral cooperation in trade and commerce.

Taiwan is hopeful that the TIFA talks can be resumed in the near future since it recently began allowing imports of U.S. beef containing traces of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.

Washington regarded Taiwan's ractopamine ban as a trade barrier and has implied in the past that a resumption of the TIFA talks rests on the beef issue.

The TIFA was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of diplomatic ties, but talks have been suspended since 2007, mainly because of the beef dispute.

Keshap is a career U.S. Foreign Service officer who coordinates U.S. economic and trade diplomacy toward the 21 APEC member economies.

His previous assignments include director of the Office of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Bhutan Affairs in the State Department's Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, as well as deputy minister counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

(By Elaine Hou)
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