Taiwan leader to visit Latin American allies with stops in US

By AFP   March 21, 2023 | 06:04 pm PT
Taiwan leader to visit Latin American allies with stops in US
Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen speaks outside her office in February, 2022. Photo by AFP/Sam Yeh
Taiwan's leader will visit diplomatic allies Guatemala and Belize next week while also making stopovers in the United States, the island's foreign ministry said Tuesday, as it aims to shore up ties in Latin America.

Tsai Ing-wen will depart Taiwan on March 29 for the 10-day trip, stopping in New York and Los Angeles while en route to and from the Central American countries, according to the ministry.

During her trip, Tsai will meet Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and Belize's Prime Minister John Briceno, the foreign ministry said.

Asked if Tsai would meet US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yui said only that her "transit itinerary is being arranged appropriately with the US side".

McCarthy said earlier this month that he would see Tsai in his home state of California.

On Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin reiterated his country's opposition to Tsai meeting with US officials.

"We firmly oppose any form of official exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan," he told a press briefing in Beijing. "China has made solemn representations to the U.S. in this regard."

In Washington, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel downplayed the significance of Tsai's transit and said it was normal for Taiwanese dignitaries to meet members of Congress or hold public events while on US stopovers.

"Transits are taken out of consideration for the safety and comfort and convenience and dignity of the passenger and are consistent with our One China policy, which also remains unchanged," Patel told reporters.

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