President Tsai Ing-wen, currently transiting in the United States on the return leg of her Journey of Freedom, Democracy, and Sustainability, met with US Senator Cory Gardner over lunch at The Fort Restaurant in the Denver suburb of Morrison, Colorado on July 20 local time (early morning of July 21 Taipei time).
Prior to the lunch, President Tsai and Senator Gardner each issued a short statement to reporters. The president thanked Senator Gardner for suggesting that she stop over in Denver on her overseas trip, and said it had been a totally new experience for her. On previous trips, her delegations had transited in the United States on either the East or West Coast. The choice to stop over in Denver this time she said, allowed her to get a feel for the state of bilateral cooperation in the Mountain West in areas like business, science, and technology.
Earlier that morning, said the president, she saw that scientific research in Colorado, especially atmospheric and climate research, is highly advanced, and many veteran scientists from Taiwan are leading a lot of research projects there. Today, she said, we've gotten a feel for what the Mountain West is like, and have developed a better understanding of the multi-layered nature of Taiwan's ties with the United States. These ties are not exclusively with the federal government and the East and West Coasts. In the Mountain West, as well, we have seen signs that people from Taiwan are active here. We've found Taiwan and the United States undertaking cooperation projects here. We've learned about a lot of bilateral business ties in this region. The president therefore thanked Senator Gardner once again for suggesting that she come to the Mountain West and stopover in Denver.
Senator Gardner mentioned in his statement that President Tsai is the first head of state from Taiwan ever to transit in Colorado, and said the two sides both celebrate the excellent partnership between Taiwan and the United States. Just the day before, they had discussed a lot of opportunities for future cooperation and the current state of economic and trade ties, as well as a free trade agreement. Now, he said, we will continue to discuss these and other matters in greater depth with an eye to spurring further development of Taiwan-US relations.
The proprietors of the Fort Restaurant, built in 1963, got their inspiration for the design and restaurant name from a drawing of Bent's Fort, a famous Colorado fur trading fort built in the 1830s. The US Department of the Interior placed the restaurant on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. In 1997, then-President Bill Clinton hosted a dinner at The Fort Restaurant for heads of state who were in the United States to attend a Group of Eight (G8) summit, and to this day the restaurant still displays the national flags that were displayed back then, along with photographs of the occasion.
After leaving the restaurant, the president and her delegation visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). NREL was established by the US Department of Energy in 1977. Originally called the Solar Energy Research Institute, it was renamed NREL in 1991 during President George H.W. Bush’s administration, expanding its research mission to include renewable energy, energy efficiency, and integrated energy systems. Former President Jimmy Carter and former Vice President Joe Biden both visited NREL while in office, and now President Tsai has also visited, taking advantage of the occasion to better understand the possibilities for Taiwan-US cooperation in the field of renewable energy.