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Taiwan welcomes US ambassador for religious freedom

2019/03/10 23:01:43

U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback (standing), image from twitter.com/irf_ambassador

Taipei, March 10 (CNA) Taiwan on Sunday welcomed U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, who is visiting the country to attend a first ever regional religious freedom forum.

During his stay from Sunday through Wednesday, Brownback will deliver a keynote speech at the "Civil Society Dialogue on Securing Religious Freedom in the Indo-Pacific Region" forum organized by the government-funded Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

He will also meet with a number of senior Taiwan officials, legislators, and religious leaders, the ministry said.

In a separate statement, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said the two-day-forum, which kicks off on Monday, is the first ever to be held in the region.

It serves as a direct follow-on event from the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington in July 2018.

"The Taipei forum will bring together leaders from more than 15 countries hailing from around the region for discussions of how to better protect and promote religious freedom, as well as encourage interfaith dialogue and cooperation," the AIT statement said.

AIT, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties, said protecting fundamental freedoms, such as religious freedom, "is a key pillar of the U.S. strategy to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region that benefits all of its religiously diverse nations."

This is the first time Brownback has visited Taiwan and he was quoted in the AIT statement as saying he is excited about the visit.

Taiwan is an important U.S. partner in the Indo-Pacific and a model for promoting religious freedom and human rights in a free and democratic society, he added.

According to MOFA, Brownback was a strong supporter of Taiwan long before he assumed office as U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom on Feb. 1, 2018.

He was a member of the Senate Taiwan Caucus and received Taiwan's agricultural mission when he served as Governor of Kansas, the ministry said.

Brownback served as Governor of Kansas from 2011-2018, represented the state of Kansas as a U.S. Senator (1996-2011) and served in the House of Representatives (1995-1996).

While a member of the Senate, he worked actively on the issue of religious freedom in multiple countries and was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, AIT said.

(By Joseph Yeh)
Enditem/AW