U.S. announces Taiwan visit of ranking state department official

09/17/2020 01:48 AM
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United States Under Secretary of State Keith Krach (Image taken from facebook.com/keithkrach)
United States Under Secretary of State Keith Krach (Image taken from facebook.com/keithkrach)

Washington, Sept. 16 (CNA) United States Under Secretary of State Keith Krach will travel to Taiwan to attend the memorial service for former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) on Sept. 19, the U.S. State Department announced Wednesday.

"The United States honors President Lee's legacy by continuing our strong bonds with Taiwan and its vibrant democracy through shared political and economic values," State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Krach, one of six under secretaries in the U.S. Department of State, will be the highest-ranking official from that department to visit Taiwan since Washington cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979.

His visit to Taiwan will be the third by a high-level foreign official in less than two months, after U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar and Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil.

The statement on Wednesday did not give out more details about Krach’s visit, including his arrival date and the duration of his stay, or whether he will host the U.S.-Taiwan Economic and Commercial Dialogue -- a new platform established to strengthen bilateral economic ties -- as previously reported by local media.

Following the State Department's statement, however, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) issued a press release, confirming Krach's visit to Taiwan Sept. 17-19. 

Taiwan is glad to see that the U.S. is sending Krach to Taiwan to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral economic ties, after David Stilwell, assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, announced on Aug. 31 the planned launch of the U.S.-Taiwan Economic and Commercial Dialogue, MOFA said. 

MOFA said it believes the latest visit will "deepen the close economic ties between Taiwan and the United States."

Krach’s visit comes amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and China due to a trade war and a power struggle in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory, has warned the U.S. not to proceed with the visit. 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) has said that the U.S. should stop all forms of official engagement with Taiwan to avoid serious damage to China-U.S. relations.

(By Stacy Hsu, Emerson Lim, Y.F. Low and Christie Chen)

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