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U.S. Official Holds Trade Talks in Taiwan

September 17, 1996| From Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A senior U.S. official acknowledged holding an official meeting with Taiwan on bilateral trade issues Monday, despite the likelihood of an angry protest from Beijing.

"Our discussions were very valuable, very constructive," Deputy Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said after concluding a one-day economic dialogue with his Taiwanese counterparts.

"These consultations will go forward in Washington in about one year," Summers said.

Beijing suggested last week that it would be unhappy about such meetings, reminding Washington that the United States' establishment of diplomatic ties with China included a promise to have no official relations with Taiwan, especially high-level visits.

Summers is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan since Transportation Secretary Federico Pena did so in December 1994.

In a luncheon speech, Summers hailed the island's booming economy and urged Taiwan to play a wider international role in Asia.

"I also look forward to the day when we can welcome Taiwan into the World Trade Organization," Summers told the American Chamber of Commerce.

Praising its dramatic development in recent decades and its drive to liberalize its financial system, Summers called Taiwan an "economic powerhouse" and--alluding to its rivalry with China--said Taiwan had a role to play in the WTO.

China, which has regarded Taiwan as a rebel province since they split in 1949 after a civil war, says the island is not entitled to membership as a sovereign nation in international bodies.

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