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|Tuesday, May 15, 2001, updated at 15:03(GMT+8)|
US: Chen Shui-bian's Transit `Private and Unofficial'The United States will let Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian stop on his way to and from Latin America, and the transit will be ``private and unofficial", the US State Department said Monday.
Very possibly, Chen is expected to meet some members of US Congress when in transit in New York and Houston, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
Chen is scheduled to spend two nights in New York on his way out next week and one night in Houston on his way back in early June. A source said that Chen planned to tour a museum and visit Wall Street while in New York and watch a baseball game in Houston.
The range of activities and the permission to meet members of Congress mark a departure from the practice of the previous Clinton administration, which imposed tight restrictions on what visiting Taiwanese leaders could and could not do. The Clinton administration tried but failed to stop Chen from meeting members of Congress when he passed through Los Angeles last August.
Ordinary Taiwanese do not need visas for transit stops in the United States, but Taiwanese leaders have to negotiate their transits with the US administration.
Boucher declined to confirm Chen's program for the two stops but said, "The understanding on these things is that the activities would be private and unofficial, that they would be consistent with the purposes of a transit."
Chen is to be greeted in both New York and Houston by Richard Bush, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, a private organization that is funded by the US government and manages US relations with Taiwan.
"There'll be no public or media events, as far as we understand. We do believe that private meetings between members of Congress and foreign leaders advance our national interest, so he may have meetings with members of Congress. ... We would assume that some of those will take place," Boucher said.
Some conservative Republicans, who supports Taiwan independence and are hostile towards China, are expected to seek meetings with Chen.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell, asked earlier on Monday if Chen would be able to transit, told CNN: "We will try to reassure the authorities in Beijing that there is nothing in Chen's transit that they should find disturbing or in any way modifying or changing or casting any doubt on the policy that exists between us and the People's Republic of China," Powell said.
Chen plans to visit El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay and Honduras between May 21 and June 4. He plans to be in New York from May 21 to 23 and in Houston on June 2 and 3.
In another development, Powell said he was confident that the US embassy in Beijing would negotiate within a few days a deal allowing the United States to take back the surveillance plane that made an emergency landing on Hainan Island on April 1 after bumping into and late colliding with a Chinese fighter plane.
"I'm quite sure that in the next few days we will find a way to resolve this that will be satisfactory to both sides," Powell said.
Source: China Daily
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