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Taiwan's Ma to stopover in US: report

TAIPEI, Jan 12 (AFP) - Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou is set to stopover in the United States either side of a scheduled visit to Honduras this month, on a trip likely to irritate China, local media said Tuesday.

Ma will leave the island on January 25 for the inauguration of Honduran president-elect Porfirio Lobo Sosa two days later, with a transit stop in San Francisco, said the state-funded Central News Agency.

Ma will make another stopover in Los Angeles before returning home on January 30. The trip will be his fourth to Latin America aimed at bolstering ties with the region since taking office in 2008, the report said.

During his stops in California he is expected to contact US congressmen to discuss a controversial decision by Taiwan to re-impose an import ban on certain US beef products, the local TVBS cable news channel said.

Foreign ministry spokesman James Chang declined to comment on the reports, saying the trip was yet to be finalised.

Ma last year dropped Honduras from a planned three-leg visit to Central America following the ouster of the nation's president Manuel Zelaya.

The trip met with protests from China, despite an improvement in ties between the former rivals following the inauguration of Beijing-friendly Ma as president.

Beijing opposes any overseas visits by officials from Taiwan, which it still regards as part of its territory awaiting reunification with the mainland.

Honduras is among only 23 countries worldwide that formally recognise Taipei instead of Beijing. Almost all of them are developing nations in Africa, Latin America and the Pacific.

Beijing repeatedly protested to Washington whenever Ma's predecessor Chen Shui-bian, a high-profile advocate of independence, made transit stops in the United States.

MySinchew 2010.01.12


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