Taipei--The U.S. government has the right to decide whether to post military personnel at the new compound of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and whether to arm the officers, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (???) said Tuesday.
The U.S. has the right to freely appoint the members of staff of AIT, including security personnel, because the building is considered an extension of U.S. territory, Lee said during a legislative hearing when asked by a lawmaker about the issue.
The right is also stipulated in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, he said.
A de facto embassy in nature, the AIT is a private entity established in 1979 to manage U.S. relations with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
The headquarters of the AIT's Taipei Office is currently located in the city's Daan District. AIT has said that its personnel will be moved to the new office compound in Neihu District later this year.
Last week, former AIT Director Stephen Young said that the U.S. will post marines at the new AIT compound to protect the mission.
The AIT has declined to comment on the matter, saying that it does not "discuss specific security matters" concerning the protection of its facility.
Currently, U.S. marines are posted at 148 U.S. overseas missions around the world to protect them and the personnel stationed there, according to information on its official website.
Since Taipei and Washington severed diplomatic ties in 1979, there have been no U.S. marines stationed at the AIT office, as the U.S. maintains only unofficial ties with Taiwan.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel