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Taiwan, U.S. launch Indo-Pacific Democratic Governance Consultations

2019/03/19 15:39:52

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮, left) and Brent Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taiwan

Taipei, March 19 (CNA) Taiwan and the United States on Tuesday jointly announced the launch of a new dialogue mechanism to achieve closer bilateral cooperation and to defend and promote shared values.

The new series of consultations, titled "Indo-Pacific Democratic Governance Consultations," is meant to explore ways to increase U.S.-Taiwan exchanges and pursue joint projects to help regional partners, said Brent Christensen, the de facto U.S. ambassador to Taiwan.

Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said the first consultation will be held in September when a U.S. delegation, led by a senior official from the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, is expected to visit Taipei.

Each side will take turns to host the consultations, Christensen said at a news briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Taipei.

"We couldn't ask for a better partner than Taiwan in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region," he said.

At the briefing, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said the launch of the consultations marks an important milestone for Taiwan-U.S. cooperation in promoting shared values of democracy and freedom.

It also shows that Taiwan is an ideal ally for the U.S. in the pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, he said.

As the two countries are commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the new consultation mechanism demonstrates that their enduring partnership is the best example for like-minded countries in the region and around the world, Wu said.

The announcement of the new mechanism was made during a rare joint press conference held at MOFA by Taiwan's foreign minister and the de facto U.S. ambassador to Taipei.

Wu told CNA it was the first time ever an AIT director was joining a press event at MOFA, which showed the U.S. government highly valued its relationship with Taiwan.

Meanwhile, when asked about the China factor, Christensen said the launch of the new mechanism between Taiwan and U.S. was not meant to provoke Beijing.

"We believe we can have a good relationship with Taiwan and a good relationship with China at the same time," he said.

According to a MOFA source, the initiative was first raised by Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State, during his last visit to Taiwan in October 2018.

It was recently confirmed by both sides, the source said, adding that Taiwan welcomes a mechanism for direct dialogue with the U.S.

Washington changed diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing on Jan. 1, 1979 and a few months later, the U.S. Congress passed the TRA, which was signed by then President Jimmy Carter on April 10, 1979.

The TRA provides the legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan and enshrines in law the U.S.' commitment to help Taiwan maintain its self-defense capability.

After the official bilateral ties were severed, the AIT was established to serve as the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan.

(By Joseph Yeh)
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