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U.S. to send former officials to Lai's inauguration

05/16/2024 12:48 PM
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President-elect Lai Ching-te. CNA file photo
President-elect Lai Ching-te. CNA file photo

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) The United States government is sending an unofficial delegation, including two former government officials, to attend the inauguration of President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德) on May 20, according to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).

The delegation will comprise former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; Brian Deese, former Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council; former AIT Chair Richard Bush; sitting AIT Chair Laura Rosenberger; and AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk, the AIT said in a statement released late Wednesday.

Deese served as the 13th director of the NEC 2021-2023, during the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, and as senior advisor to then President Barack Obama 2015-2017.

Armitage, meanwhile, was deputy secretary of state 2001-2005 during the administration of then President George W. Bush.

When the American delegation arrives in Taipei, the members will attend Lai's inauguration ceremony on May 20 and meet with several leading figures in Taiwan, said the AIT, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

"They will convey congratulations from the American people to Dr. Lai Ching-te on his inauguration as Taiwan's fifth democratically elected president, and to the Taiwan people for once again demonstrating the strength of their robust democratic system," the AIT said.

The delegation will also emphasize the U.S.' "longstanding commitment in maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," it added.

In Washington, a White House official said Wednesday that for more than 20 years, American delegations comprised of former government officials have been visiting Taiwan after its presidential elections and attending the inauguration of the elected leaders.

The inauguration is "part of a normal routine democratic process," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity to disclose details of the trip before they were formally announced.

"Beijing will be the provocateur, should it choose to respond with additional military pressure or coercion," the official said.

The official also reiterated the U.S.' stance on the cross-strait issue, saying that Washington opposes "unilateral changes to the status quo from either side" and does not support Taiwan independence.

Rather, the U.S. supports cross-strait dialogue and expects both sides to resolve bilateral differences by peaceful means, "free from coercion in a manner that is acceptable to the people on both sides of the strait," the official said.

Sitting Vice President Lai won Taiwan's presidential election on Jan. 13, gaining an unprecedented third consecutive term for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Following the 2016 presidential election in Taiwan, former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk led the American delegation to the inauguration of then President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). In 2012, former U.S. White House Chief of Staff William Michael Daley led a congratulatory delegation to attend the inauguration of then President-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

(By Joseph Yeh and Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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