Ex-US official says no ties between his visit, beef row


TAIPEI–Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said yesterday that his visit to Taiwan was not aimed at discussing the long-running dispute over American beef between the two countries but to develop a better understanding Taiwan’s democracy. As a former U.S. government official, Armitage said in Taipei after a meeting with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng that he is interested in the issue of free trade markets but said his mission here “is not to talk about beef or pork.”

Armitage’s visit comes at a time when Taiwan’s government, under pressure from the United States, is proposing to conditionally lift the ban on beef imports containing traces of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine. Meanwhile, asked about a North Korean rocket launch plan set for April, Armitage described it as an issue that many countries should feel worried about. “I think all of us should worry when we see something like a sort of a missile shoot, which is outside the sanctions” allowed by the United Nations, said Armitage.