TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Former President Gerald Ford met Thursday with Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui, conveying a message of goodwill from President Bush to Lee and his people.
Ford, the first major American political figure to visit Taipei since 1979 when Washington recognized the People's Republic of China and cut official ties with Taiwan, also met with Premier Hau Pei-tsun on the second day of a four-day visit.
Ford is in Taiwan as a private guest of the Formosa Plastics Group.
The late Dwight D. Eishenhower, the first and only U.S. head of state to visit the island, came here in 1960.
Ford previously visited Taipei in August 1953 while a congressman sitting on a House committee responsible for budgeting military and economic aid to Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang government.
At a news conference Ford declined to divulge details of Bush's message to Lee, saying only that the president, in a phone conversation prior to Ford's departure from California Wednesday, 'asked me to extend his personal best regards and to reassure the people of Taiwan of our continued strong support to their efforts diplomatically, economically and politically.'