U.S. senators propose National Guard-Taiwan partnership program
Washington, July 20 (CNA) A bipartisan group of 13 U.S. senators has introduced a resolution calling for the establishment of a partnership program between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwan's defense forces.
Among the senators who introduced the bill, titled the Taiwan Partnership Act, in the Senate on Tuesday were Rick Scott, Tammy Duckworth and John Cornyn. Identical legislation was also filed in the House of Representatives.
According to a statement issued by Scott, the resolution urges the creation of a partnership between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwanese defense forces, in order "to ensure a well-integrated defense force capable of fast deployment during a crisis."
The non-binding measure also calls for increasing exchanges between defense officials and military personnel on the two sides, with the goal of strengthening Taiwan's reserve forces and improving interoperability between the different branches of its military.
In the statement, Scott warned that Taiwan faces a growing level of "aggression" from Beijing, making it imperative for the U.S. to make clear that it stands with Taiwan in defense of its democracy.
"This legislation carries an important message to General Secretary Xi that we will not tolerate his threats against Taiwan's autonomy," he said.
Duckworth, a National Guard veteran who visited Taipei last month, said the bill would evaluate ways to enhance cooperation with Taiwan, which she called "an important strategic partner for the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region."
The National Guard is "ideally suited" to partner with Taiwan in areas such as emergency response, cyber defense, education, cultural exchanges and advisory programs, she said.
Meanwhile, senior diplomats from the U.S., Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo on Wednesday to discuss issues ranging from North Korea and the COVID-19 response to the situation in the Taiwan Strait.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman took part in the talks with Vice Foreign Minister Mori Takeo of Japan and First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong Kun of South Korea.
As relates to Taiwan, the sides affirmed the need to maintain regional peace, unimpeded commerce, and adherence to international law, "including freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and beyond," Price said.
The discussion also emphasized "the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," he added.
Sherman, the number two U.S. diplomat under Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is currently on the first leg of a July 18-25 trip to Japan, Korea and Mongolia.
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