Feb 17, 2005

Taiwan: Clinton Expected to Visit Taiwan later this Month

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is expected to visit Taiwan before the end of this month as part of a tour of Asia
Taipei, Feb. 16 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) confirmed news reports Wednesday that former U.S. President Bill Clinton is expected to visit Taiwan before the end of this month as part of a tour of Asia. MOFA spokesman Michel Lu said the Foreign Ministry invited Clinton to visit Taiwan in a move to show Taiwan's admiration for Clinton's contributions to maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific area during his tenure. Inviting retired U.S. presidents, as well as heads of state from countries that are friendly toward Taiwan, have always been the set policy of the Foreign Ministry, Lu added. Delivering a speech in Taipei and meeting with President Chen Shui-bian are expected to be part of his one-day itinerary, the details of which have yet to be fleshed out, according to MOFA officials. Although Clinton is no longer president, he is expected to be accorded treatment befitting a head of state during his visit, according to MOFA officials. Clinton has remained an internationally important figure since his retirement and now acts as an unofficial representative of the United States. During his upcoming Asian tour, Clinton is expected to visit South Asian and Southeast Asian countries that were battered by the devastating tsunami of Dec. 26 last year. He is also expected to visit several Northeast Asian countries, including Japan, South Korea and mainland China. "It is hoped that Clinton will be able to squeeze in one day to visit Taiwan during the tour, " MOFA officials said. With eight years in the White House, Clinton is very familiar with the delicate triangular Taipei-Washington-Beijing relations. The former U.S. president originally planned to come to Taiwan in November 2003 but was forced to cancel the visit due to a tight schedule. He was also scheduled to visit Taiwan Sept. 12, 2001, but failed to make it due to the 911 terrorist attacks. Clinton visited Taiwan four times during his tenure as governor of Arkansas before being elected U.S. president in November 1991.