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No chance of Tsai-Trump meeting in Hawaii: foreign minister

2017/10/18 12:26:34

Taipei, Oct. 18 (CNA) There is no chance that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump during a possible transit stop in Hawaii on an upcoming trip to Pacific ally countries, Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維) said Wednesday.

The White House announced earlier this week that Trump is scheduled to stop in Hawaii during an Asian trip to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines from Nov. 3 to 14.

Tsai will visit three of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the Pacific -- the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands -- from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4.

Local media have reported that Tsai could make a stopover in Hawaii before or after visiting the three Pacific island countries, and some even speculated there was a possibility she could meet with Trump during a transit stop there.

Asked by reporters to confirm the possibility, Lee gave a firm "no."

Lee later told lawmakers at a legislative hearing that the ministry has no such plan and that there was "zero possibility" of Tsai and Trump being in Hawaii at the same time.

Lee, meanwhile, said again that the government was still not able to officially announce the transit stops for Tsai's trip because the U.S. side remained focused on arranging Trump's trip to Asia.

The foreign minister had said Monday that he was hoping for a quick resolution of the matter, possibly by Tuesday, but that did not materialize. Aside from Hawaii, there has also been speculation that Tsai could make a stopover in Guam.

In accordance with previous practice, Taipei and Washington announce the transit stops in U.S. territory to be made by Taiwan's president during an overseas trip at the same time.

Meanwhile, asked if Taiwan could become a bargaining chip used by Washington to strengthen ties with Beijing when Trump visits China in November, Lee said the U.S. has repeatedly given Taiwan reassurances that "such a situation will not happen."

Lee stressed, however, that Taiwan's government will remain on high alert and pay close attention to the possible impact of the expected meeting between Trump and Xi.

(By Joseph Yeh)