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US State Dept official to visit Taiwan for de facto embassy unveiling

AFP  |  Taipei 

An of state will attend the unveiling of a massive new complex for Washington's in Taiwan, a visit less likely to unnerve which was concerned that higher-level American officials may attend.

There was speculation that US Donald Trump's may attend the unveiling ceremony at the American Institute of (AIT) on June 12, which would have made him one of the most senior American officials to visit since 1979 and likely drawn China's ire.

also reported last week that a visit by a member of Trump's cabinet -- and -- was a possibility. But the AIT said in a statement Sunday that Marie Royce, assistant for educational and cultural affairs, will visit June 10-14 and attend the ceremony.

gave up official diplomatic ties with in 1979 to recognise Beijing, but it remains the island's most powerful ally and top arms supplier. Taiwan-US relations have since been handled delicately and in a low-key manner through the AIT to avoid riling -- which sees the island as part of its territory to be reunified, by force if necessary.

The AIT said Royce will "also hold discussions with... Taiwan authorities on the many partnerships and exchanges between the US and Taiwan".

Royce is the wife of pro-Taiwan and House foreign affairs committee

The completion of the new AIT offices -- built over nine years at a cost of USD 250 million -- comes amid closer US-Taiwan ties.

Trump in March approved new rules allowing top US officials to travel to the island. The move angered Beijing, which called on to "correct its mistake".

There have also been expressions of support for from US officials and lawmakers in the face of growing pressure from Beijing, which has lured away Taiwan's allies and blocked the island's participation in international events.

The Royce announcement also comes at a time when the US and are locked in tense trade negotiations, and as Trump heads to for a landmark nuclear summit with

The US leader has praised Chinese for whirlwind diplomatic efforts with in recent months.

The AIT will move into its new complex later this year.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, June 10 2018. 10:20 IST