U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi starts a tour of four Asian countries on Sunday, her office said, without mentioning Taiwan amid intense speculation she might visit the self-ruled island claimed by China, APA reports citing Reuters.
"Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a Congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific region, including visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan," her office said in a statement.
It said the visit would include those countries, but did not specify whether Pelosi, who is number 3 in the line of presidential succession, might make other stops.
"The trip will focus on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region," it said.
Gregory Meeks, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was among the delegation.
Pelosi was expected to arrive in Singapore on Monday for a two-day visit, broadcaster CNA reported, citing the country's foreign ministry. The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore was scheduled to host a reception with her on Monday afternoon, its website site.
China views visits by U.S. officials to Taiwan as sending an encouraging signal to the pro-independence camp in the island. Washington does not have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
A visit by Pelosi would be a dramatic, though not unprecedented, show of U.S. support for Taiwan. Republican Newt Gingrich was the last House speaker to visit Taiwan in 1997.