U.S. Under Secretary of State Krach arrives in Taipei on 3-day visit

09/17/2020 07:33 PM
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American Under Secretary of State Keith Krach steps off a plane at Songshan Airport/ CNA photo Sept. 17, 2020
American Under Secretary of State Keith Krach steps off a plane at Songshan Airport/ CNA photo Sept. 17, 2020

Taipei, Sept. 17 (CNA) American Under Secretary of State Keith Krach arrived in Taipei on Thursday afternoon on a three-day visit to attend a memorial service for former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

Krach and his delegation arrived on a commercial charter flight at Songshan Airport, which is also a military airbase, at around 5:20 p.m.

Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister Harry Tseng (曾厚仁) and Director of the American Institute in Taiwan Brent Christensen were at the airport to meet Krach, the highest-ranking State Department official to visit Taiwan since Washington cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979.

The American delegation includes Robert Destro, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the State Department; Ian Steff, assistant secretary for global markets at the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration; Kelley Currie, ambassador-at-large for global women's issues; and Randall Schriver, former assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs.

CNA photo Sept. 17, 2020
CNA photo Sept. 17, 2020

During the three-day visit, Krach will attend a memorial service for former President Lee, who died July 30 at the age of 97.

The delegation's itinerary also includes meetings with several government officials and businesspeople, as well as a banquet on Friday hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), according to the Presidential Office.

Prior to Krach's arrival, it was reported that he was scheduled to host the U.S.-Taiwan Economic and Commercial Dialogue -- a new platform established to strengthen bilateral economic ties.

In a press release Wednesday, however, the U.S. State Department said Krach would be in Taiwan to attend Lee's memorial service on Saturday, and it made no mention of the U.S.-Taiwan Economic and Commercial Dialogue.

According to Taiwan media reports, the economic talks were canceled because Washington was angered by a leak of information about Krach's trip and his itinerary.

CNA photo Sept. 17, 2020
CNA photo Sept. 17, 2020

Taiwan's Presidential Office, however, said those reports were inaccurate and that both sides were still preparing for the dialogue, following its announcement on Aug. 31 by David Stilwell, assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Commenting on Krach's visit, Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, said it showed that Washington had "opened its doors and given a go signal" for the elevation of Taiwan-U.S. relations.

However, Legislator Lu Yu-ling (呂玉玲) of the opposition Kuomintang said that although the elevation of Taiwan-U.S. relations was commendable, Taipei should also prudently assess the price that might have to be paid.

Meanwhile, at a press briefing in Beijing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) blasted Washington over Krach's visit to Taiwan, saying it conflicted with the "one China principle."

China, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory, will respond accordingly, Wang said.

(By Chiu Kuo-chiang, Wen Kuei-hsiang, Wang Yang-yu, Wang Cheng-chung and Emerson Lim)

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