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President Tsai leaves on trip to Paraguay, Belize

2018/08/12 16:04:26

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) / CNA file photo

Taipei, Aug. 12 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) departed Sunday on a nine-day overseas trip that will take her to two of Taiwan's 18 diplomatic allies, Paraguay and Belize, with stopovers in the United States.

Tsai will arrive in Los Angeles around noon Sunday local time and stay overnight before flying to Paraguay the following day, and will transit through Houston on Aug. 18 on her way back to Taiwan after visiting Belize.

With Tsai making her first trip with stops in the U.S. since U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act into law in March, many are watching to see if Tsai is treated differently there or has more interaction with U.S. politicians than in the past.

The act encourages high-level U.S. officials to visit Taiwan and vice versa, which could lead to a change in previous U.S. policy that has restricted bilateral visits by Cabinet-level ministers but allowed Taiwanese presidents to
transit through U.S. cities en route to other countries.

During her three-day stay in Paraguay from Tuesday to Thursday, Tsai will attend the inauguration of President-elect Mario Abdo Benitez on Wednesday.

Tsai will also hold talks with the president-elect and outgoing President Horacio Cartes, according to her itinerary.

On Tuesday, Tsai will join Cartes at a ceremony marking the opening of a technology university jointly founded by the two countries. She will also witness the donation of Acer tablet computers to the school.

Taiwan and Paraguay sealed an agreement in December 2017 to jointly found the university to cultivate engineering talent.

Paraguay has provided funds for the school's construction while Taiwan has provided teachers, curriculum plans and laboratory equipment.

On Thursday, Tsai will head to Belize for a three-day visit, during which she will be decorated by Governor-General Colville Young and visit Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

In Belize, Tsai will give a speech to parliament, visit Taiwan's embassy, technical vocational schools, a technical mission, and cultural sites, and attend a Taiwan scholarship presentation ceremony.

The president is scheduled to leave Belize on Aug. 18 (local time) before heading to Houston for a nearly 27-hour stopover.

Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) will accompany Tsai on the flight to Los Angeles, where she will start a tour of five U.S. cities that will also take her to San Francisco, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City before she rejoins Tsai in Houston.

Tsai will return to Taiwan late on Aug. 20.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, the Taiwan Center Foundation of Greater Los Angeles is organizing a welcoming party for Tsai, foundation chairman Alan Thian (田詒鴻) said Saturday, adding that the party is expected to draw over 1,000 Taiwanese expatriates.

(By Sophia Yeh, Tsao Yu-fan and Elizabeth Hsu)
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