US House Speaker Pelosi ends flashpoint visit to Taiwan

Nancy Pelosi is 1st sitting US House speaker to visit Taiwan in past 25 years.

US House Speaker Pelosi ends flashpoint visit to Taiwan

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday concluded her controversial trip to Taiwan

Pelosi reached Taipei Songshan Airport at around 5.15 p.m. (0915GMT) and spent some 14 minutes bidding goodbye and taking photos with Taiwanese, accompanying American lawmakers and officials, besides the airport ground staff.

Pelosi was seen moving around the tarmac, near the US Air Force jet, waiting for its next destination to South Korea. The 82-year-old American lawmaker was also seen handing over something, probably gifts, to Taiwanese officials at the airport.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu saw Pelosi and her delegation off, and the plane finally took off at 6.01 p.m. (1001GMT).

The trip drew interest around the world as people closely followed China's response to Pelosi's trip. Beijing had strongly urged the US House speaker to abandon the trip, warning of consequences if it took place.

Pelosi is on a four-nation trip to Asia and flew to Taiwan on Tuesday night from Malaysia, a first trip to the self-ruled island by a sitting US House speaker in the 25 years.

Over the next few days she will visit Seoul and then Japan.

The US House speaker met with the Taiwanese president, lawmakers, and activists, including one who fled Hong Kong and has now settled in Taiwan.

Her trip was met with angry responses from China, which launched military drills and planned four days of exercises surrounding the island.

Beijing considers Taiwan its “breakaway province” and has strongly urged other nations to avoid direct relations with Taipei – which enjoys independent diplomatic ties with at least 14 nations.

The US does not recognize Taiwan as a separate nation but has economic and defense relations with the self-ruled island.

Republican Newt Gingrich was the last US House speaker to travel to Taiwan, in 1997.