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No change in U.S. stance on arms sales to Taiwan: AIT

2019/06/25 17:30:12

Taipei, June 25 (CNA) The U.S.' decades-long stance in providing Taiwan with weapons has not changed, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said Tuesday, amid reports that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has temporarily set aside an arms sales package to Taiwan in order to reach a trade deal with China.

"There has been no change to our policy, which is that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are guided by the Taiwan Relations Act and based on an assessment of Taiwan's defense needs," AIT acting spokesperson Aaron Huang told CNA.

"Our longstanding policy on arms sales to Taiwan has been consistent across multiple U.S. administrations. We believe our consistent policy has contributed to the security of Taiwan, and has also supported the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he added.

Huang's comment came in response to a Time magazine report Monday that quoted an anonymous U.S. defense official as saying that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is holding up a final decision on selling advanced U.S. tanks and other military equipment to Taiwan, ahead of President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping's scheduled meeting on the sidelines of the June 28-29 G20 economic summit in Japan.

The batch of arm packages refers to four requests Taiwan previously made to the U.S. -- 108 M1A2 Abrams tanks, 1,240 BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles, 409 FGM-148 Javelin surface-to-air missiles and 250 FIM-92 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.

Asked to comment, Taiwan's military said the government has sent letters of request for the weapons to the U.S. and is awaiting a response, adding that the process is going smoothly and according to schedule.

Taiwan's foreign ministry, meanwhile, said it will continue to work closely with the U.S. and Congress to push for the sale of defense articles to Taiwan.

(By Joseph Yeh)