Outgoing deputy AIT head awarded medal, praises U.S. Taiwan ties

Taipei, Outgoing American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) deputy head Robert Forden on Wednesday praised the strong U.S.-Taiwan ties despite the changing of administrations on both sides, as he was awarded a medal of friendship by the foreign ministry in recognition of his contributions over the past three years.

Forden was awarded the Friendship Medal of Diplomacy by Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (???) in recognition of his efforts to promote Taiwan-U.S. relations. The AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

Thanks to the efforts of Forden and all AIT staff, Wu said, Taiwan and the U.S. are working more closely than ever in the areas of security, trade, investment, regional issues and humanitarian relief.

"Furthermore, in less than one week's time, the new AIT compound will open, which is a concrete symbol of U.S. commitment to Taiwan," Wu noted.

For his part, Forden, who has served in an AIT post four times over the past 30 years, recalled the achievements the AIT and Taiwan have made over the past three years, including Taiwan's entry to the U.S. Global Entry Program and the passage of an arms sale deal last summer.

Next week's dedication ceremony for the new AIT compound in Taipei's Neihu District will best represent the progress in bilateral ties made over the past years, he said.

According to Forden, another significant example of the cordial ties is that U.S. and Taiwan have worked through two transitions of administrations -- one in May 2016 when President Tsai Ing-wen (???) took office, and the other in January 2017, when President Donald Trump assumed power.

Despite the change of administrations, U.S.-Taiwan relations have stayed strong throughout, he noted.

Forden assumed duties as deputy AIT head in August 2015. He previously served as AIT Kaohsiung branch chief from 2002 to 2005. Prior to that, he served in various less senior positions.

He is scheduled to leave Taiwan June 18, according to the AIT. His successor has yet to be announced.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel