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Taiwan paying close attention to U.N. arms treaty: foreign ministry

2012/06/12 16:49:22

Taipei, June 12 (CNA) Taiwan is paying close attention to developments leading up to the negotiation of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) among United Nations member countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday, amid worries expressed by scholars that the treaty could make it difficult for the United States to sell weapons to Taiwan.

Taiwan is aware of the proposed U.N. treaty and will keep abreast of the developments, Lily Hsu, head of the ministry's Department of International Organizations, at a routine press conference.

"The ministry is looking into the matter and will ask its de-facto embassies to collect relevant information," she said.

The U.N. started paying close attention to global weapons trade in 2006 in light of the poor regulations and standards. The ATT was proposed in an effort to ensure that arms are transferred for appropriate use. Negotiations on the treaty will be held in New York July 2-22.

In a paper published last week, researchers at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation said that if it is successful, the treaty would hinder Taiwan's right to buy or import arms because it is not a U.N. member state.

"The ATT thus provides the basis for a Chinese argument that U.S. sales of arms to Taiwan would circumvent the PRC's (People's Republic of China) import control system, violate China's territorial integrity, and thus violate the treaty," the local daily Taipei Times reported, quoting from the paper.

Providing Taiwan with defensive weapons is a long-standing policy of the U.S. under its Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and Six Assurances.

The TRA, enacted in 1979 when Washington decided to sever ties with Taipei, obliges the U.S. to help Taiwan defend itself. In 1982, then U.S. President Ronald Reagan offered Taiwan six assurances, which included a promise that the U.S. would not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan.

(By Nancy Liu)