TAIPEI (Reuters) – A senior U.S. official charged with handling ties with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) bloc visited Taiwan this week for talks on his country’s plans to host the grouping this year, the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei said on Friday.
APEC is one of the few international organisations to which Chinese-claimed Taiwan belongs, since Beijing, which views the island as a Chinese province, and not a country, blocks its participation in most others.
Against the backdrop of military tension between Beijing and Taipei, past APEC summits have served as a rare conduit for direct engagement between Taiwan and China, which is also a member.
The U.S. official, Matt Murray, visited Taiwan on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss with senior officials issues related to APEC and the robust U.S.-Taiwan economic relationship, the American Institute in Taiwan said in a brief statement.
Murray discussed topics such as high-level meetings set for August in Seattle on aspects of disaster preparedness, food security, health and the economy, energy, women and the economy, and small and medium enterprises, the statement added.
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It did not say whom he had met while in Taiwan.
The main leaders’ summit will take place in San Francisco in November.
Taiwan presidents do not attend APEC summits, but the island is represented either by senior former officials or business leaders, such as Morris Chang, founder of semiconductor maker TSMC, who went to the Bangkok summit last year.
Chang had a brief conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the time, and also discussed semiconductors with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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