Beef, TIFA are separate issues: ex-US deputy secretary of state

The China Post

By Grace Soong–ormer U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage yesterday told local media he believes that the issue of whether Taiwan will import U.S. beef should not be tied with the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The former deputy secretary of state is visiting Taiwan as a guest of Washington think tank Project 2049 Institute, and met with President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday morning.

The main purpose of the trip, according to Armitage, is to discuss U.S.-Taiwan and cross-strait relations, while also gaining an understanding of the development of Taiwan’s democracy. U.S. beef is not among the topics of discussion, he said.

Pointing out that he has retired from his government position, Armitage asserted that he personally sees the subject of U.S. beef and TIFA as two separate issues that should be dealt with separately. How the U.S. government should handle the problems is up to the incumbent officials, he said.

Armitage said he believes that the U.S. would do its best to resolve the worries over the U.S. beef issue, also saying “as an American, I am very concerned about the free trade issues.” Improving Cross-strait and International Relations

Taiwan has been taking international steps and is experiencing improved cross-strait relations, Ma said yesterday during the meeting with Armitage, expressing gratitude for the support the U.S. has provided along the way.

The nation’s participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) three years ago marked significant space for Taiwan to become involved in international activities, Ma said, pointing out that the event was the first time in 38 years Taiwan took part in a WHO meeting. That a U.S. official had stood up to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty at last year’s World Health Assembly, the president said, was very encouraging for Taiwan.

Taiwan has signed 16 different agreements with mainland China and currently enjoys visa-free privileges from 126 countries, Ma said. Such international progress has helped enhance the Taiwanese people’s confidence in the cross-strait relations, he said.