Marut easygoing and friendly: diplomatic source

Taipei, May 8 (CNA) Christopher Marut, the newly appointed head of the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), is a person who is "easy to work with" and has a "good reputation," a Taiwanese diplomatic source said Tuesday. "He is a friendly person," said the source who met with Marut for the first time two years ago in a business setting in Hawaii. AIT's Washington headquarters announced Monday that Marut, a senior diplomat who has been stationed in various Asian countries, will succeed incumbent director William Stanton this August. Marut's most recent assignment was as director of the Office of Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island Affairs under the United States Department of State's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Prior to that, he served as deputy consul general at the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, and he also previously served as a consular officer and science and technology officer at the AIT. Although the AIT, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal ties, released a statement detailing Marut's education and 27-year diplomatic career, the source offered a broader picture of who he is and how he has been perceived. "Almost everybody has a high opinion of him," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The source, who gave Marut high marks for his professional performance, said Marut most likely has a special attachment toward Taiwan because both of his children were born here while he was stationed in Taipei from 1986-1989. One local media report tried to paint Marut as not being a big enough "heavyweight" to oversee Taiwan-U.S. relations, but the source said the appointment "must have been thought through" because the position was a "competitive one" among senior U.S. diplomats. "He is of the same level as Stanton," the source said. (By Nancy Liu)