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U.S. delegation pledges support for Taiwan's self defense

2018/02/21 16:19:31

U.S. Senator James Inhofe (left) and Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維, right)

Taipei, Feb. 21 (CNA) A visiting U.S. congressional delegation pledged Wednesday to continue its support of the decades-long U.S. policy of providing Taiwan with sufficient armaments to defend itself.

"There are some armaments helpful to Taiwan, and certainly (Taiwan) has our fullest cooperation and we anticipate that our interests are the same," U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), co-chairman of the Senate Taiwan Caucus, told reporters in Taipei.

Asked what kind of weapons the U.S. could sell to Taiwan, Inhofe, one of the most senior members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said whether it is "F-35s or F-16s and other equipment," he and all members of his delegation will fully support such proposals.

Inhofe made the comments on the sidelines of a banquet at the Taipei Guesthouse hosted by Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維). He is leading a congressional delegation to Taiwan from Tuesday to Thursday as part of a larger visit throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Inhofe's delegation includes members of both the Senate and House Armed Services Committee, including Michael Rounds (R-SD), Joni Ernst, (R-IA), Daniel Sullivan (R-AK) and Trent Kelly (R-MS).

A long-term supporter of Taiwan, Inhofe and another co-chairman of the Senate Taiwan Caucus, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), sent a bipartisan letter in April 2017 in advance of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the U.S., urging President Donald Trump to be mindful of the longstanding and vital relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan.

He also helped draft the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2018, which was signed by Trump in December 2017.

The act includes clauses that would allow the U.S. to look at the possibility of re-establishing "regular ports of call by the U.S. Navy at Kaohsiung or any other suitable ports in Taiwan" and permits the U.S. Pacific Command to receive ports of call by Taiwanese vessels.

Aside from military cooperation, Inhofe has also engaged in talks during his visit with Taiwan's leadership on the possibility of importing U.S. natural gas to Taiwan.

(By Joseph Yeh)