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MOFA unaware of Trump ban on U.S. official visits to Taiwan

2019/06/18 12:29:27

Taipei, June 18 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has no information on a report that the Trump administration has banned its senior officials from visiting Taiwan while Washington is working on a trade deal with Beijing, an official said Tuesday.

"Taiwan and the United States have maintained close and smooth contacts for a long period of time and we have never heard such a thing (ban)," Vincent Yao (姚金祥), head of MOFA's Department of North American Affairs, said when asked to comment on the ban reported by the Wall Street Journal earlier in the day.

"As you can see senior U.S. officials have continued their visits to Taiwan over the past months, proving that the cordial relations between the two countries continue," he said.

Quoting multiple sources, the WSJ report said U.S. President Donald Trump had requested that no American diplomats travel to Taiwan while he is working on a deal with China.

He made the request after learning that senior State Department official Alex Wong (黃之瀚) visited Taipei in March 2018 when the U.S. and China were in talks to resolve trade disputes, a visit that angered Trump because it could possibly complicate talks with Beijing, the WSJ reported.

Whether such a ban has actually been imposed remains unclear, however, given that nearly a dozen U.S. officials at the deputy assistant secretary level have visited Taiwan since then.

The WSJ report also said the Trump administration is now split on whether to grant more than US$2 billion of tanks and other weapons to Taiwan over the potential repercussions the deal may have on efforts to reignite trade talks with China.

Asked to comment, Yao reiterated previous comments by Taiwan's military that the government has sent Letters of Request for the weapons to the U.S. and is awaiting a response, adding that the process is going smoothly and according to schedule.

The four requests are for 108 M1A2 Abrams tanks, 1,240 BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles, 409 FGM-148 Javelin surface-to-air missiles and 250 FIM-92 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, according to Taiwan's military.

(By Joseph Yeh)