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Reuters 'embarrassed' over Tsai interview: MOFA
Taipei, May 1 (CNA) International news agency Reuters has apologized to Taiwan over misunderstandings resulting from a recent interview with President Tsai Ing-wen during which she was asked about the possibility of another phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, Foreign Minister David Lee said on Monday.
In the interview which was later headlined "Taiwan president says phone call with Trump can take place again" published on April 27, Reuters quoted Tsai as saying that "we don't exclude the opportunity to call President Trump himself, but it depends on the needs of the situation and the U.S. government's consideration of regional affairs."
However, in a Reuters interview with Trump published on April 28 under the headline "Trump spurns Taiwan president's suggestion of another phone call," the U.S. President said he did not want to create problems for Chinese President Xi Jinping when Beijing appears to be helping efforts to rein in North Korea.
Trump's response has been described as a slap in the face to Tsai, and some in Taiwan have criticized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), which helped arrange the interview with Tsai, as having poor judgment and allowing itself to be "set up" by the news agency.
Some people working for Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party criticized Reuters for misrepresenting Tsai, who gave the interview in Chinese, and some even went as far as suggesting that Reuters had been bought off by the Chinese to set up Tsai's apparent humiliation by Trump.
When asked about the matter on Monday, Lee told reporters that Reuters had submitted in advance a list of questions for Tsai, but the one about a possible second Tsai-Trump phone call was not on the list.
After the incident, Reuters did express regret and apologize to the MOFA, according to Lee.
He said Reuters officials told the MOFA that they "feel embarrassed," saying the company's Asian bureau was unaware its Washington bureau had scheduled an interview with Trump right after the one with Tsai.
Asked about the matter during a legislative hearing, the minister said although the question was raised unexpectedly, Tsai's answer was well-considered and circumspect.
He also said the U.S. side was concerned over Tsai's comment about possibly calling Trump again until the ministry provided them with a full transcript of the interview.
Tsai called Trump on Dec. 2, less than a month after his election as U.S. president to offer her congratulations, the first contact of its kind since the two countries broke off diplomatic ties in 1979. The Chinese government, which considers Taiwan as part of the Chinese territory, was alarmed and worked to ensure that Trump accepts the one-China concept that are reflected in the three joint communiques between Washington and Beijing.
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