The United States said Friday it was considering a request by Taiwan's president-elect to visit the US before his May inauguration. President-elect Ma Ying-jeou has promised to defuse tensions and expand trade with rival China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory and has threatened to invade should the self-governing island make its de facto independence formal. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters that Ma "has indicated publicly he would like to visit the US before his May 20th inauguration. We are presently taking his request under consideration." Washington adheres to a "one-China" doctrine and has recognized Beijing as its government since 1979. But it maintains a close connection to Taiwan and provides the island with the means to defend itself.