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Tsai's transit long term Washington practice: U.S. State Department

2019/03/22 11:37:07

Washington, March 21 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen's transit through the United States after her visit to three of Taiwan's Pacific allies is a long term practice, the U.S. State Department said Thursday.

"President Tsai's transit through the United States is based on long-standing U.S. practice, and is consistent with the unofficial nature of our relations with Taiwan," a U.S. Statement Department spokesperson said in a statement.

Tsai arrived in Palau Thursday on the first stop of her trip to three allies in the Pacific. She departed earlier the same day to begin an eight-day trip to Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands, marking her sixth overseas visit and her second trip to the nation's Pacific allies since taking office in May 2016.

Tsai will stay in Palau from March 21-23 and Nauru from March 24-25, before arriving in the Marshall Islands on March 26 for the first-ever Pacific Women Leaders' Coalition Conference (PWLC), to be held March 26-27, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

The ministry said Tsai will fly to Hawaii from the Marshall Islands where she will stopover on March 27, and is scheduled to return to Taiwan at 8:20 p.m. on March 28.

"These transits are undertaken out of consideration for the safety, comfort, convenience, and dignity of the traveler," the U.S. State Department spokesperson said.

"There has been no change to the U.S. one-China policy, which is based on the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act," the spokesperson said.

The TRA was enacted in 1979 after Washington severed ties with Taipei, with the aim of defining future unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan.

"President Tsai's transits will be private and unofficial," the spokesperson said.

In the statement, the spokesperson said James Moriarty, Chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), will greet Tsai when she arrives in Hawaii, emphasizing AIT is the institution which carries out Washington's unofficial ties with Taipei.

The spokesperson reiterated that the U.S. encourages authorities in China and Taiwan to "engage in constructive dialogue that seeks a peaceful resolution of differences acceptable to the people of both sides of the Taiwan Strait."

During her trip, Tsai will meet with Palau President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., Nauru President Baron Divavesi Waqa, and President of the Marshall Islands Hilda C. Heine, all of whom have previously visited Taiwan.

The PWLC, which Tsai will attend, is being convened by president Heine and aims to encourage women leaders from various fields to participate, raise their profile and build wider support for women's issues regionally and locally.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Frances Huang)