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Deputy foreign Minister meets with senior U.S. official

2019/03/20 17:11:58

Photo taken from U.S. Embassy - Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/usembassyportmoresby)

Taipei, March 20 (CNA) Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) met with U.S. National Security Council Senior Director Matt Pottinger in the Solomon Islands earlier this month, according to a Facebook post by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Wednesday.

Hsu and Pottinger discussed how Taiwan and the United States can strengthen cooperation and promote freedom and openness in the Indo-Pacific region, the post stated.

According to a ministry source familiar with the matter, Hsu visited the Solomon Islands, one of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the region, in early March and met with Pottinger and several local political figures there.

The Solomon Islands has been one of Taiwan's diplomatic allies since March 1983.

There is no U.S. embassy in the Solomon Islands, the source noted, therefore Pottinger's meeting with Hsu in the island nation is an apparent move by the U.S. to show its support for Taiwan, MOFA said.

According to a Financial Times report on March 12, politicians in the Solomon Islands once said in recent months that the country will "review" its policy towards China and Taiwan after a general election scheduled for April 3.

In addition, Deutsche Welle quoted Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corp., on Tuesday as saying that Taiwan's Pacific allies signed a communiqué indicating their interest in promoting relations with China.

In response, MOFA said five Micronesian nations issued a joint communiqué after the 19th Micronesia Presidents' Summit, in late February recommending the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and the PIF Secretariat establish a more respectful and fair policy regarding the PIF activities relating to the participation of China and Taiwan.

The communiqué does not indicate the five Micronesian nations -- Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Nauru, are leaning towards Beijing, MOFA noted.

The ministry further said that Taiwan's ties with its Pacific allies are stable, though with several holding elections this year the regional situation is in flux.

MOFA will continue to manage relations with its diplomatic allies with the utmost discretion, it added.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) embarks on a visit to three Pacific allies -- Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands Thursday.

(By Elaine Hou and Chung Yu-chen)
Enditem/AW