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Ex-AIT director granted permanent residency privilege in Taiwan

2012/08/03 14:39:00

Taipei, Aug. 1 (CNA) Former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director William Stanton was granted permanent residency by Taiwan's government Wednesday to recognize his efforts in promoting bilateral ties.

Stanton, who received a permanent resident certificate one day after he stepped down from the post, will remain in Taiwan and begin teaching at the Taipei American School next week.

At a ceremony held in Taipei, Stanton said he was "excited" to obtain the certificate -- granted to foreigners who have made great contributions to Taiwan.

Describing himself as a "small potato," Stanton, 65, said he will continue to play a part in improving ties between Taipei and Washington.

Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan, who presented Stanton with the certificate, touted the former AIT director's achievements during his three years in the post.

Stanton played an integral part in Taiwan becoming a candidate for the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, in facilitating American arms sales to Taiwan, and in encouraging high-ranking U.S. officials to visit the island, Lee said.

Asked by a reporter about his views on the U.S. beef issue, which had been seen as a trade barrier between Taipei and Washington, Stanton declined comment, saying only that he hoped "(bilateral) trade negotiations will begin soon."

After a months-long debate, Taiwan's Legislature passed amendments that opened the country's doors to U.S. beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.

The U.S. decided against resuming talks with Taiwan under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in early 2011 after Taiwan refused to allow the entry of U.S. beef containing ractopamine residues.

On the issue of Taiwan's participation in the U.S. visa-waiver program, the former AIT director said he believes it will happen by the end of this year.

Stanton was the fourth former foreign top envoy to Taiwan to have been granted permanent residency, following Henrik Bystrom of Sweden, Menno Goedhart of the Netherlands and Francisco Ricardo Santana Berrios of El Salvador.

In July, Stanton was awarded the Order of Brilliance Star by President Ma Ying-jeou for his contribution to Taiwan-U.S. relations. The president also gave the former diplomat, who dislikes driving, a customized EasyCard to use on Taipei's public transportation network.

(By Elaine Hou)