President Tsai describes U.S. official's visit as 'milestone'
Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday described American Under Secretary of State Keith Krach's visit to Taiwan as a "milestone for a deepened Taiwan-U.S. relationship" during a banquet she hosted for Krach and his delegation, who are in Taiwan for a three-day visit.
Krach is the highest ranking U.S. State Department official to visit Taiwan since 1979, when Washington switched diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China (Taiwan's official name) to the People's Republic of China.
The banquet was held at Tsai's official residence in Zhongzheng District, Taipei and was not opened for media coverage.
According to a press statement issued later by the Presidential Office, Tsai thanked Krach and his delegation for visiting Taiwan and relaying the U.S. government's support for Taiwan's democracy.
Tsai also expressed hope that future cooperation and dialogue between Taiwan and the U.S. can proceed smoothly.
Some observers speculated that the banquet was not held at the Presidential Office in order to keep Tsai's meeting with Krach low profile so as not to provoke Beijing, which opposed the visit and carried out military exercises near Taiwan on Friday to show its disapproval.
However, presidential spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) told reporters earlier that Tsai's official residence was made the venue for the banquet because the Taiwan side hoped to "welcome good friends from the U.S. in a warm way."
Chang added that by holding the banquet at Tsai's residence, the host and the guests can have face-to-face exchanges in a more relaxed atmosphere and without time pressure.
Krach arrived on Thursday via a commercial chartered plane. According to an earlier statement from the U.S. Department of State, he is visiting Taiwan to attend a memorial service for the late Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) on Saturday.
Krach's entourage includes Robert Destro, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the State Department; Ian Steff, assistant secretary of commerce for global markets; Kelley Currie, ambassador-at-large for global women's issues; and Randall Schriver, former assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs.
Earlier on Friday, Krach called on Taiwan's Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮).
According to a statement from the Executive Yuan, Su discussed "common challenges faced by both sides and economic-related issues" with Krach.
Wu exchanged views with Krach on "issues relating to Taiwan-U.S. relations and future cooperation," according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
Krach also held a three-hour closed-door economic meeting with Taiwanese officials, including Vice Premier Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津), a former economic minister, and his successor Wang Mei-hua (王美花).
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