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Taiwan-U.S. ties making strides: AIT Washington chief

2018/02/04 17:43:20

John J. Norris, managing director of the Washington Office of the American Institute in Taiwan.

Washington, Feb. 3 (CNA) John J. Norris, managing director of the Washington Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said Saturday that relations between Taiwan and the United States over the past year were marked by several positive developments, including the U.S.' approval of a major arms sale to Taiwan.

Speaking at Lunar New Year luncheon for overseas Taiwanese in Washington, Norris said some of the strides made in bilateral ties were Taiwan's inclusion in the U.S. global campaign against North Korea and the expansion of travel privileges on both sides.

In the lunar year of the Rooster, which ends on Feb. 15, Norris said, U.S. Global Entry eligibility was extended to Taiwan passport holders, while Taiwan included U.S. citizens worldwide in its e-Gate trusted traveler program.

The U.S. administration also approved a major arms sale package to Taiwan, underscoring the U.S.' commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act, while Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was allowed to transit successfully through Hawaii and Guam on an overseas trip, he said.

In the upcoming Lunar New year, the year of the Dog, the U.S. is anticipating further strengthening of ties with Taiwan, Norris said.

The new AIT office compound in Taipei's Neihu District, scheduled to open later this year, is a testament to the strength and vitality of U.S.-Taiwan relations, he said.

The new AIT facility is likely to open around the middle of the year as the lease on its current compound in Da'an District will expire in July.

In accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. will also endeavor to strengthen its economic partnership with Taiwan, support Taiwan's confidence and freedom from coercion, deepen the bonds of friendship between the people on both sides, and ensure that Taiwan has the ability to make positive contributions to the international community, Norris said.

Also addressing the gathering, Taiwan's representative to the U.S. Stanley Kao (高碩泰) said the development of Taiwan-U.S. relations over the past year was barely satisfactory and there is room for improvement in the new lunar year.

Stephen Yates, a deputy national security adviser to then-U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney from 2001 to 2005, also spoke at the event, saying that the U.S. and Taiwan should work together to further stimulate economic development, attract investments, create employment and encourage domestic manufacturing industries to return to their home countries.

(By Rita Cheng and Evelyn Kao)