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Foreign minister confirms plan for presidential overseas trip

Foreign minister confirms plan for presidential overseas trip

Taipei, May 25 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is planning a trip next month by President Tsai Ing-wen to Panama and Paraguay -- two diplomatic allies of Taiwan in Central and South America, Foreign Minister David Lee confirmed Wednesday.

While the United States has not yet given the nod to a proposal for the U.S. cities in which Tsai will conduct transit stops during the trip, it would be premature for the MOFA to issue an official announcement of Tsai's planned visit to the two countries, Lee said.

"But (we are) heading in that direction," he said while answering questions from New Power Party lawmaker Hsu Yung-ming in a hearing at the legislative Foreign and National Defense Committee.

Hsu asked if there is a clear direction for a "summit diplomacy" policy of the new government, which was sworn in May 20. He also asked if Tsai will conduct an overseas trip in June.

Lee replied the government is planning for Tsai to attend the inauguration ceremony for the expanded Panama Canal next month, and will visit Paraguay after her visit to Panama.

Because there are many details of the planned trip that have not yet been settled, including the U.S.'s agreement to Tsai making transit stops on its soil, MOFA cannot issue an official announcement on the matter, Lee explained.

Asked if former National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou I-jen will take over the position to head the Association of East Asian Relations, which is in charge of ties with Japan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, as rumors have said, the minister refused to confirm or deny.

However, he said Chiou has stayed in Japan for a long period of time in the past and has deep knowledge of Japan's political situation.

Having a veteran like Chiou serving in Tokyo would earn Japan's respect, Lee said. (By Tang Pei-chun and Elizabeth Hsu)

Updated : 2021-06-22 08:17 GMT+08:00