Lai's transit accorded based on 'safety, dignity': U.S. official
Washington, Jan. 20 (CNA) Vice President Lai Ching-te's (賴清德) upcoming transit through the United States is being facilitated with consideration for the "safety, comfort, convenience and dignity" of the delegation, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said Thursday.
"The United States facilitates, from time to time, Taiwan authorities to transit the United States," the official said in an email response to CNA, when asked to comment on the issue.
"Such transits are undertaken with consideration for the safety, comfort, convenience and dignity of the passenger and are in keeping with our one China policy."
According to Taiwan's Presidential Office, Lai will transit through California and hold talks with U.S. officials while en route to and from a Jan. 27-28 trip to Honduras.
Lai is traveling to Honduras to attend the inauguration ceremony of the country's President-elect Xiomara Castro.
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 the next day.
James Moriarty, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, will greet Lai in California, the State Department official said.
The Taiwan and U.S. governments had negotiated over Lai's COVID-19 vaccination status and it was agreed that the vice president did not need to obtain an additional vaccine, according to the Presidential Office.
Currently, U.S. 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, which is not yet on the U.S. list of accepted COVID-19 vaccines.
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.
Also Thursday, U.S. Representatives Tom Tiffany and Scott Perry wrote to Harris urging her to meet Lai "in an official and public capacity" during her visit to Honduras.
The two Congressmen argued that it is important for the United States to demonstrate its shared commitment to deepening U.S.-Taiwan economic and security cooperation at a time when China has been stepping up its "checkbook diplomacy" efforts worldwide and military provocations in the Taiwan Strait.
"A bilateral meeting with Vice President Lai in Honduras would also help Taiwan cement its remaining diplomatic partnerships in Latin America by sending a clear message that increasing Chinese influence in the region is unwelcome," they said.
They noted that the Taiwan Travel Act was passed by Congress in 2018 with support from Harris, who was then a U.S. Senator. The act seeks to encourage high-level meetings between senior U.S. and Taiwanese officials, including the president and vice president.
"You now have an opportunity to build on that historic progress by meeting face-to-face with your Taiwanese counterpart," they added.
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