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WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 15, 2001 – Taiwanese Central News Agency)---The Republic of China's envoy to Washington played down the United States’ order that prevents a Taiwanese navy fleet from making a port call to the Marshall Islands in May.

Apparently bowing to pressure from Beijing, the United States ordered the Marshall Islands government not to allow the three-ship flotilla to make a scheduled visit to the Micronesian nation.

(See: U.S. Bans Taiwan Navy Visit To Marshall Islands at

Chien-Jen Chen, Taipei's chief representative to the United States, disputed a press report describing the move as an "unfriendly" gesture towards Taiwan on the part of the Bush administration.

He added that the U.S. position is in no way connected to on-going considerations about arms sales to Taiwan.

He described the Bush administration's attitude towards Taiwan as "fundamentally friendly."

Chen also said that, under the security arrangement between the United States and the Marshall Islands, the United States can have its say on port visits by foreign military vessels to the island nation.

He added, however, that whether the ships do make the visit would ultimately depend on the position of the governments of both Taiwan and the Marshall Islands.

Earlier in the day, a State Department official said that the United States does not view such visits "as consistent with our unofficial relations with Taiwan and with our responsibilities" under the terms of the Compact of Free Association between the United States and the Marshall Islands.

"We have conveyed our views to the Marshall Islands government," the official added.

The official said that, under the compact, the United States has responsibilities regarding the entry of naval vessels into the waters of the Marshall Islands.

The Republic of China established diplomatic ties with the Marshall Islands in 1998. Last year, the ROC Navy included the island nation on the itinerary of its annual goodwill flotilla visit for the first time.

The State Department official would not comment on why Washington voiced opposition to the second but not the first port call.

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