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President Tsai meets AIT Taipei Office Director Sandra Oudkirk
President Tsai meets AIT Taipei Office Director Sandra Oudkirk

On the morning of August 10, President Tsai Ing-wen met with Sandra Oudkirk, the new Director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). During the meeting, President Tsai expressed hope that Taiwan and the US will continue to build on our strong cooperative partnership, working together as real friends to make real progress and take our bilateral ties to new heights.

A translation of the president's remarks follows:

Director Oudkirk, I am delighted to meet once again and to welcome you back to Taiwan, this time as Director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan. On behalf of the government and people of Taiwan, I wish you all the best in your new post.

Last month, you attracted much attention by arriving here in a mask bearing the words "Hello Taiwan." The mask, a gift from Representative Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), was a creation of Taiwan's overseas compatriot community and part of their efforts to advance public diplomacy. Thank you for helping them promote Taiwan. I am sure they were thrilled to see you wearing it.

Director Oudkirk, you are a seasoned diplomat and an old friend of Taiwan. Having served in Taiwan during the 1990s, you witnessed many key events in Taiwan's transformation.

In 2019, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, you led a delegation to Taiwan to participate in the first Taiwan-US Pacific Islands Dialogue. You also gave a speech at the Yushan Forum. I still remember meeting you here at the Presidential Office. We exchanged views on how to uphold peace and stability in the region, as well as the common values we share.

When you served as US Senior Official for APEC, we also saw close cooperation between Taiwan and the US in the APEC arena. I believe your rich diplomatic experience, extensive knowledge of Taiwan, and long-term familiarity with Taiwan-related issues will enable us to take Taiwan-US relations to the next level.

Over the past few years, Taiwan and the US have continued to make important progress in our relationship, and we have faced the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic together. In June, the US donated 2.5 million vaccine doses to Taiwan. A friend in need is a friend indeed. I once again thank the US for its staunch and timely support of Taiwan.

June also saw Taiwan and the US resume negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. We look forward to Taiwan and the US continuing to deepen collaboration in such areas as investment, trade, and supply chain security. And we hope to work toward the signing of a bilateral trade agreement, which would establish closer, mutually beneficial trade and economic connections.

In terms of security, the Biden administration announced its first arms sale to Taiwan just last week. I believe this will be of great assistance in strengthening Taiwan's self-defense capabilities. I thank the US for its support and hope that, through joint efforts, we can work together to maintain peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Furthermore, Taiwan and the US have recently made progress in many other areas of collaboration, including coast guard operations, technology, and education. I look forward to further cooperation on even more emerging issues in the future, including responses to climate change.

In closing, I want to once again welcome you, Director Oudkirk, as you take up your new position. I hope that, by building on our strong foundation, Taiwan and the US will continue to deepen our cooperative relationship in the spirit of "real friends, real progress." Director Oudkirk, I look forward to seeing your ingenuity as we work to take Taiwan-US relations to new heights. Thank you!

Director Oudkirk then thanked the president for her kind words, and said that she was delighted and honored to be back in Taiwan serving as AIT Director at a time when the Taiwan-US relationship is at a high-water mark. Director Oudkirk further expressed hope to be able to work directly with the president and her team in order to build and strengthen our bilateral relationship.

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