Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will visit allies Paraguay and the Dominican Republic next month, making a transit stop on the west coast of the United States. 'President Ma is scheduled to visit the two allies from August 12 to August 19 to attend the inaugural ceremonies of the newly elected presidents there,' Foreign Minister Francisco Ou Hung-lian announced in Taipei yesterday. He said Mr Ma would go through Los Angeles to Paraguay for the inauguration of president-elect Fernando Lugo on August 15, and then for the inauguration of Leonel Fernandez in the Dominican Republic on the following day. Instead of a transit stay on the politically more important east coast on August 19 as reported, Mr Ma will return by way of San Francisco. That news prompted Taiwanese media to speculate about a snub by the US due to pressure from the mainland. Beijing has already asked Washington not to admit Mr Ma, reminding it of its commitment to the 'one-China' policy. The west coast transit arrangement also sparked the opposition Democratic Progressive Party to criticise Mr Ma's engagement policy with the mainland and his calls for a diplomatic truce with Beijing. But Mr Ou said the west coast transit had nothing to do with a US snub or mainland pressure. 'It would be closer to go by way of the west coast, especially when the trip is short and schedules are tight,' he said. Mr Ou said that to be more economical, Mr Ma would take a commercial flight to Los Angeles on August 12, staying one night there before taking a small charter flight to Paraguay. He would take another commercial flight back on August 19, Mr Ou said. He said Mr Ma had no plan to visit other countries during his Latin American trip, and first lady Christine Chou Mei-ching would not go with him. It will be Mr Ma's first overseas trip since he took office in May.