US ambassador to UN cancels Taiwan trip

US State Department calls off all trips as it undergoes presidential transition period

U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Kelly Craft speaks during news conference at U.S. State Department in Washington. 

U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Kelly Craft speaks during news conference at U.S. State Department in Washington.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, has canceled her trip to Taiwan, as the U.S. Department of State halted all diplomatic travel on Tuesday (Jan. 12, Washington time), citing the ongoing presidential transition process as the reason.

“We are canceling all planned travel this week, including the Secretary’s trip to Europe,” said State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus via a statement on Tuesday.

“We are fully committed to the completion of a smooth and orderly transition process to be finalized over the next 8 days,” said Ortagus. She added that arrangements regarding department personnel changes are being made for Senate confirmation.

Craft was originally scheduled to arrive in Taiwan on Wednesday (Jan. 13, Taipei time), at a time when U.S.-China tensions continue to escalate due to disagreement on various issues, including, the recent mass arrests of pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong. Craft’s trip was aimed to show support for democracy and freedoms, Secretary of State Pompeo said last week.

According to the U.S. Mission to the U.N., Craft had planned to meet with senior Taiwanese officials and deliver a speech during her trip from Jan. 13-15. Taiwanese authorities had previously confirmed President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would meet with Craft on Jan. 14.

On Wednesday, the Presidential Office expressed via a statement its regret over the cancellation of Craft’s trip, but it said it respects the State Department’s decision. “We also regret that Ambassador Craft was not able to visit Taiwan as planned, but we still welcome Ambassador Craft to Taiwan at an appropriate time in the future,” said Presidential Office Spokesperson Xavier Chang (張惇涵).

Meanwhile, quoting sources from the EU, Reuters reported on Wednesday that the State Department canceled Pompeo’s trip to Europe because European leaders and NATO allies “showed reluctance to grant him appointments.” They felt “embarrassed” to meet Pompeo after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed Capitol Hill last week.

Updated : 2021-01-21 11:09 GMT+08:00