Legislative speaker meets outgoing AIT head

Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (???) met Monday with retiring American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond F. Burghardt, who is currently visiting Taiwan.

Describing Burghardt as an old friend, Su said he has interacted with Burghardt on many occasions over the past 16 years, ever since he was magistrate of Pingtung County.

Su said he hopes Burghardt will see Taiwan as his second home and continue to help Taiwan participate in international affairs after his retirement.

Burghardt, for his part, said he has been involved in Taiwan affairs for a long time and is very happy about the progress in Taiwan-U.S. relations over the past 10 years.

He said relations between Taiwan and the United States are important bilateral ties that cover areas such as economic and trade cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.

Washington views Taiwan with respect and has urged Beijing to treat Taiwan with respect as well, he added.

He told reporters after the meeting with Su that he will visit Taiwan in a private capacity in the future.

On the next AIT chairman, who has yet to be announced by Washington, Burghardt said he has known the person for a long time and described the choice as "perfect."

Burghardt is expected to retire later this year, and James Moriarty, a former senior director for Asia at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, has reportedly been tapped as his successor.

The AIT is the agency that represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties.

Burghardt arrived in Taiwan a day earlier and is scheduled to stay until Sept. 15, during which he will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (???), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement.

This is Burghardt's 20th visit to Taiwan since he took office in February 2006 and his last as AIT chairman, according to the AIT.

The MOFA said Burghardt has been committed to promoting Taiwan-U.S. relations since becoming AIT chairman.

It noted that Burghardt last visited Taiwan in May as a member of the U.S. delegation to Tsai's inauguration ceremony. Earlier in January, he also accompanied former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on a trip to Taiwan.

During Tsai's transit stop in Los Angeles in July, Burghardt greeted her at the airport upon her arrival, and during another stopover by Vice President Chen Chien-jen (???) in New York in August, he saw Chen off at the airport upon his departure, demonstrating the United States' courtesy and respect for the two leaders, the ministry said.

In recent years, Taiwan-U.S. ties have been growing stronger and closer, with progress having been made on bilateral cooperation on security, trade, culture, technology, counter-terrorism efforts, environmental protection and human trafficking prevention, the ministry said, adding that Burghardt's current visit will help further deepen relations between the two sides.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel