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U.S. official visits Taiwan amid tensions with China over travel act

Taiwanese flag
A scene from the inauguration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Photo: Billy H.C. Kwok / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Alex Wong, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, landed in Taiwan Tuesday for a three-day trip. He's the first U.S. official to visit Taiwan since President Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which "encourages visits between officials of the United States and Taiwan at all levels."

  • A visit at this level is far from unprecedented, but while Wong's area of expertise is security issues in the region, past visits have tended to focus on issues like trade. Wong will attend a dinner during the visit at which Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is also expected to be present.
  • Why it matters: China is fiercely opposed to the travel act, claiming it "severely violate[s] the one-China principle." American and Taiwanese officials have said the timing is unrelated to the act.
Jonathan Swan 7 hours ago
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Inside Trump's week of European visits

Photos: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images; Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This week in Washington will be dominated by two foreign visitors: French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife's visit will culminate with the first state dinner of Trump's presidency at the White House on Tuesday night — then, on Friday, Trump hosts German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

What we're hearing: Macron hopes to persuade Trump to work with the Europeans to fix the Iran nuclear deal rather than to follow his instincts and tear up the deal next month by reimposing American sanctions on Iran.

Jonathan Swan 8 hours ago
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Trump asked Netanyahu if he genuinely cares about peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump at the White House in March. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In a phone call last year with Bibi Netanyahu, President Trump said something that shocked some of the people who helped prepare his briefing materials for the conversations. According to three sources familiar with the call, Trump asked Bibi bluntly if he actually cares about peace or not.

The details: Trump was pressing Bibi on the importance of striking a "deal" for Mideast peace. He'd read news reports about Bibi planning to build additional settlements to please his conservative base in Israel. Trump thought Bibi was unnecessarily angering the Palestinians. So, in the course of a longer conversation that was mostly friendly and complimentary, he bluntly asked Bibi whether or not he genuinely wants peace.