Taiwan, U.S. vice presidents briefly interact in Honduras (update)

01/28/2022 02:18 PM
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Vice President Lai Ching-te (front row, right) speaks with his U.S. counterpart Kamala Harris (front row, second right). Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office
Vice President Lai Ching-te (front row, right) speaks with his U.S. counterpart Kamala Harris (front row, second right). Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office

Tegucigalpa, Jan. 27 (CNA) Taiwan Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) exchanged brief greetings with his American counterpart Kamala Harris at the inauguration ceremony of Honduran President Xiomara Castro Thursday, the first time the two have interacted publicly.

Lai and Harris traveled to Honduras to attend Castro's inauguration.

As the last government envoy introduced to the packed sports stadium where the ceremony was held, Harris greeted all the government leaders present one after another, including Lai, who was sitting in the front row near Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada and the King of Spain, Felipe VI.

Lai and Harris exchanged greetings for a moment, marking the first time the two vice presidents have interacted at a public event since taking office in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Commenting on their encounter, which the international media has characterized as "highly symbolic," Harris told reporters after the inauguration ceremony that she and Lai talked about "a common interest in this part of the region."

The brief conversation also touched on "Taiwan's interest in our Root Causes Strategy," Harris said, referring to the U.S.' ongoing efforts to curb migration.

Reuters has described the brief encounter as "highly symbolic" and "likely to add to Beijing's tensions with Washington."

Vice President Lai Ching-te (back row, second left) chats with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris (left)

However, speaking at a press conference with the Taiwanese press corps later the same day, Lai declined to reveal what he and Harris discussed, saying only that he thanked the U.S. vice president for her country's support of Taiwan.

While the possibility of Lai meeting with Harris had been the subject of much speculation by Taiwan's press, a senior U.S. government official said Wednesday there were no plans for Harris and Lai to meet while they were in Honduras.

The official said that Harris had only scheduled bilateral talks with Castro to take place after the inauguration.

Lai is leading a Taiwanese delegation to the Central American nation to attend Castro's inauguration and meet with officials from the new Honduran government.

He will wrap up the visit to Honduras Friday and transit through San Francisco on his return trip to Taiwan.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Teng Pei-ju)

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