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President confirmed to have met ex-U.S. White House aide in Taipei

ROC Central News Agency

2016/12/08 13:36:55

Taipei, Dec. 8 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has met Stephen Yates, a former U.S. White House official who is on a visit to Taiwan, and the two have had a deep conversation, Taiwan's minister of foreign affairs said Thursday.

David Lee (李大維) confirmed the meeting, which he said took place the previous evening, upon being asked by reporters about the event.

Tsai and Yates "had quite a deep conversation" during the meeting at the presidential residence, Lee said.

Asked what Tsai and her guest talked about, Lee said he did not know because he was not there.

Yates will visit him at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, when they will exchange views of the future relationship between the two countries, Lee revealed.

Meanwhile, the widely anticipated meeting between Tsai and Yates, who was deputy national security adviser to then-U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney during the George W. Bush administration, was also confirmed by Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

Lo attended the dinner Tsai hosted for Yates at her residence Wednesday evening, along with his colleague, Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), and an American friend of Yates.

They five had a cheerful conversation during the three-hour occasion, Lo told the press.

Asked if Tsai and Yates talked about the possibility of a Tsai meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump or members of his transition team during a stopover she is scheduled to make in the United States on her way to Central America in January, Lo said that Yates thought it is not necessary to have such a high expectation at present.

Yates suggested Tsai should make more contacts with ordinary American people if she has the chance, because from the results of the U.S. presidential election in November, people can see the difference between Washington political circles and public opinion, Lo said.

Saying that public opinion is the key strength that decides U.S. policies, Yates suggested Taiwan must not just develop high-level links with Washington, but should also develop grassroots relations, Lo said, adding that Tsai appeared she agrees with that viewpoint.

Yates also issued a reminder that although Trump and his team are friendly toward Taiwan, it is not yet clear whether this friendliness will turn into actual policies, Lo said.

Yates is currently chairman of the Idaho Republican Party and was one of those responsible for including the "Six Assurances," given to Taiwan by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1982, and the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act in the Republican Party's platform at its national convention in July this year.

It has been speculated that he was person who helped arrange a telephone conversation between Tsai and Trump on Dec. 2, but he denied this when asked about the speculation upon his arrival in Taiwan on Tuesday for a private visit.

The phone call was the first interaction of its kind since the United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in January 1979.

The call drew much criticism in the United States, with critics and media outlets saying Trump broke diplomatic convention and risked upsetting U.S. relations with China.

(By Tang Pei-chun and Elizabeth Hsu)

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