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US Approves Taiwan President's Stopover

Saturday, 12 May, 2001

Dow Jones Newswires

Taipei -- Despite expected protests by Beijing, the U.S. government has granted approval for Taiwan's president to make a transit stop in New York when he travels to Latin America later this month, the state-run news agency reported Saturday.

Reporting from Washington, the Central News Agency quoted unidentified State Department officials as saying President Chen Shui-bian has been allowed to pass through New York May 21-23 and to make a stopover in Houston June 2-3 on his way home.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said it has yet to receive the formal approval from Washington.

Chen will be the first Taiwanese president to pass through New York, a stopover that would almost certainly spark fierce protests from Beijing.

Washington has allowed Taiwanese leaders to make brief stopovers in the U.S. but has avoided approving a transit in metropolitan New York.

Last year, Chen made a transit stop in Los Angeles during his first trip abroad as president. To avoid embarassing his host country, he avoided high-profile meetings with U.S. lawmakers.

The China Times Express said this time the U.S. State Department doesn't plan to bar U.S. lawmakers from meeting Chen and may even allow Chen to watch a baseball game in Houston if the president demands.

Many U.S. lawmakers have demanded a tougher U.S. stance toward China in the aftermath of the standoff over the mid-air collision of an U.S. spy plane with a Chinese fighter jet last month.