Heritage Foundation founder Edwin Feulner, a senior adviser to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's transition team, confirmed Monday that he spoke with President Tsai Ing-wen (???) by phone but did not meet with her during her stopover in Houston.
Feulner, who heads the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, said Tsai called him on Jan. 7 and they talked for five minutes about U.S.-Taiwan relations.
"I accepted the call from a longtime friend as a private citizen and in no way represented the president-elect (Donald Trump) or the Trump transition," he said via e-mail, in response to questions by Taiwanese reporters on whether he met with Tsai.
Feulner's remarks came after the Liberty Times in Taipei reported in a Jan. 9 front-page story that Tsai met Feulner, Walter Lohman, director of the Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center, and Randall Schriver, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, for lunch in Houston on Jan. 7.
Citing an unnamed source, the daily well connected to Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party said they discussed in-depth cross-Taiwan Strait relations and bilateral ties between Taiwan and the United States.
The daily newspaper also said that Feulner played an important role in arranging the congratulatory phone call between Tsai and Trump in early December.
It was the first interaction of its kind since the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in January 1979.
In response to the report, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (???) would not divulge who met with the president during her stopover in the U.S. based on mutual respect, but he said the reported list of participants at the meeting with Tsai was inaccurate.
Tsai arrived in Houston on Jan. 7 for a stopover before departing for Honduras the next day.
Following the Honduras visit, Tsai and her entourage arrived in Nicaragua on Jan. 9. During her brief stay there, she is scheduled to attend the Jan. 10 inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
On her second overseas trip since taking office in May 2016, Tsai will also visit Guatemala and El Salvador, before making a stopover in San Francisco on Jan. 13 on her way back to Taiwan.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel