Taiwan's next VP sits on first row at US National Prayer Breakfast

William Lai's high-profile visit signals closest relations with US since diplomatic ties severed in 1979

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US National Prayer Breakfast

US National Prayer Breakfast (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — On the fourth day of his trip in Washington, Taiwan Vice President-elect William Lai (賴清德) on Thursday (Feb. 6) attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast hosted by United States President Donald Trump, in Washington.

Traditionally held at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, this year marked the event's 68th occurrence. It took place early on Thursday when Trump celebrated his impeachment acquittal the previous day.

The event was attended by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary Mike Pompeo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, senators and House members, and representatives from nearly a hundred countries. Taiwan's next vice president Lai was also invited — making it the highest-profile visit by a Taiwanese figure and signaling the closest bilateral ties since the two countries severed diplomatic relations in 1979.

Accompanied by the Taiwanese diplomat Stanley Kao (高碩泰), Lai walked into the ballroom at 7 a.m. People familiar with the matter told Taiwan News that Lai was prominently seated in the first row, near the highest-ranking U.S. officials.

During the first three days of Lai's trip, he met with pro-Taiwan Senators Marco Rubio, Jim Risch, Bob Menendez, Cory Gardner, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He also visited the National Security Council on Wednesday (Feb. 5).