Taiwan President Ma to visit Latin America, Caribbean

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou will visit Latin America and the Caribbean via the United States next month, the Presidential Office said Monday.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Ko told a press conference at the Presidential Office that Ma will embark on the 12-day journey on Aug. 11 and arrive back in Taiwan on Aug. 22.

The main purpose of the trip is to attend the inauguration of Paraguayan President-elect Horacio Cartes on Aug. 15.

Ma will also visit Haiti and three of the island's diplomatic allies in the Caribbean. They are St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Ma will make a transit stop in New York on the way to Paraguay and return to Taiwan via Los Angeles, where he will transit briefly.

It will be the first time Ma makes a transit stop at New York. The U.S. stops bear political significance as Washington sometimes uses stops as a reward or punishment for Taiwanese presidents.

Ko said while details of the trip are still being arranged, it is clear that the trip will be "low key" and "surprise free."

Ko denied speculation that Japan had rejected Ma's transit request, saying it was groundless.

The Presidential Office also dismissed a media report alleging Ma would engage in "political activities" during the U.S. stops.