VP to transit through California on Honduras trip, hold talks with U.S. officials

01/20/2022 04:15 PM
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Vice President Lai Ching-te. CNA photo Jan. 1, 2022
Vice President Lai Ching-te. CNA photo Jan. 1, 2022

Taipei, Jan. 20 (CNA) Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) will transit through California and hold talks with U.S. officials while en route to and from a Jan. 27-28 trip to Honduras, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said in a statement Thursday.

Lai has been named President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) envoy to take part in the inauguration ceremony of Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro and the trip will mark the first time Lai travels overseas since taking office in May 2020.

According to Chang, Lai will depart from Taiwan on Jan. 25 and arrive the same day in Los Angeles, where he will stay over before traveling to the Central American nation on Jan. 27.

After wrapping up his visit in Honduras on Jan. 28, Lai will stopover in San Francisco before returning to Taiwan on Jan. 30, Chang added.

During his stopovers in the U.S., Lai will have a series of phone calls and virtual meetings with U.S. government officials and political representatives, as well as overseas Taiwanese communities, Chang said, without providing further details.

No in-person meetings have been arranged due to COVID-19 concerns, the spokesman said.

Chang noted that the U.S. government would provide the 26-member delegation led by Lai with a "high-standard" reception and treatment.

He also said both the Taiwan and U.S. governments had negotiated over Lai's COVID-19 vaccination and it was agreed that the vice president did not need to obtain an additional vaccine.

Currently, American authorities require visitors to be fully vaccinated against the disease with an approved vaccine. However, Lai has been vaccinated with three shots of the Taiwan-made Medigen vaccine, which is not yet on the U.S. list of accepted COVID-19 jabs.

Vice President Lai Ching-te (in black) receives his third dose of the Taiwan-developed Medigen COVID-19 vaccine as a booster shot in Taipei on Jan. 15. CNA file photo
Vice President Lai Ching-te (in black) receives his third dose of the Taiwan-developed Medigen COVID-19 vaccine as a booster shot in Taipei on Jan. 15. CNA file photo

While in Honduras, Lai is expected to interact with foreign dignitaries at the inauguration ceremony, including U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who will lead her country's delegation at the event, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The vice president will also meet with Castro to convey Tsai's congratulations and discuss matters related to bilateral ties, the ministry said.

Castro's win in the Nov. 28 presidential election made her the first female president of the Central American country, which first established diplomatic ties with the Republic of China, the official name of Taiwan, more than 80 years ago.

The victory of the 62-year-old wife of ousted former Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya had previously raised concerns over Honduran ties with Taiwan, as Castro had said during her campaign that she would switch recognition to China if she won.

Two senior members of Castro's transition team said last month, however, that the incoming government would maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

(By Joseph Yeh and Teng Pei-ju)

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