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Former AIT chief Bellocchi remembered in Taipei

2014/11/18 13:58:46

Washington, Nov. 17 (CNA) Natale H. Bellocchi, former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), died Monday at his home in Maryland, sources said. He was 88.

It was learned that his family found him in his bed Monday morning after apparently having passed away peacefully in his sleep.

In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remembered Bellocchi for his contributions to U.S.-Taiwan relations over the past decades.

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party also paid tribute to Bellocchi, with party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen saying "our hearts go out to Ambassador Bellocchi's family in this time of sorrow."

In his nearly 40 years as a foreign service officer, Bellocchi was based in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and India. He served as deputy assistant secretary of state before being named U.S. ambassador to Botswana in 1985.

It was during his time working at the U.S. embassy in the Republic of China in Taipei in the 1960s, before bilateral diplomatic ties were broken off, that he met his future wife Liu Li-lan.

He was head of the AIT in Washington from 1990 to 1995, mainly during the Clinton administration. After his retirement from AIT, Bellocchi continued to speak out in support of Taiwan.

Though visible in previous years, he was rarely seen at public functions in Washington since he injured his back a few years ago.

(By Rita Cheng, Tang Pei-chun, Sophia Yeh and Jay Chen)