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Support for Taiwan ‘priority’ for Washington: AIT Chair Rosenberger

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairwoman Laura Rosenberger told a press conference in Taipei on Thursday that U.S. support for Taiwan remained a “priority” for Washington, with the bilateral partnership “unaffected” by the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

“In Washington, the focus on our support for Taiwan is something that is a priority for the Biden Administration,” Rosenberger said, noting that the U.S. government led by President Joe Biden continued to work to expand its partnership with Taipei.

This partnership, she went on, and the U.S.’ commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait are “enduring” and “unaffected” by events elsewhere in the world, alluding to the flare-up of armed conflict between Palestinian militant groups led by Hamas and Israel that began on Oct. 7.

“The United States will remain committed to supporting Taiwan,” she said, mentioning in particular Washington’s commitments to provide defensive articles and services to Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act.

The U.S. government is concerned about Beijing’s “pressure and coercion campaign” aimed at Taiwan, and has raised such concern with Beijing directly in their conversations, the AIT chairwoman said.

Maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is not only central to the security and prosperity of Taiwan, but to that of the entire world as well, she said.

Speaking of her meetings with presidential candidates from Taiwan’s three largest political parties over the past few days, Rosenberger rejected the idea that Washington was conducting job “interviews” with the contenders.

Rosenberger arrived in Taiwan Sunday for a five-day trip, and she has since met with Democratic Progressive Party’s presidential nominee Lai Ching-te (賴清德) and his rivals Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) from the main opposition Kuomintang and Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) of the Taiwan People’s Party, respectively.

She said instead that the meetings were intended for the U.S. to “have an understanding of the candidates’ visions for Taiwan” and for the candidates to “understand the United States priorities and interests.”

However, she declined to reveal what had been discussed during those meetings, saying it should remain “private.”

She reiterated that Washington would not take sides in Taiwan’s presidential election in January and that the U.S. policy toward Taiwan would be the same regardless of the election’s outcome.

“We look forward to working with whomever Taiwan voters choose as their next leader,” she said.

She added that while Washington was confident about Taiwan’s vibrant democracy and free and fair election processes, it had conveyed to Beijing its opposition to outside interference or influence in the presidential election.

As for why she did not meet with independent presidential contender Terry Gou (郭台銘), Rosenberger said that “the AIT directly engages with candidates who are officially eligible, as determined by the Central Election Commission.”

Rosenberger’s current visit, accompanied by Michael Pignatello, a senior consultant with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, marked her third trip to Taiwan since assuming her post in March.

The AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

Source: Focus Taiwan