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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. expects cross-strait tensions to ease after Taiwan election

ROC Central News Agency

2008-03-12 14:09:05

    Washington, March 11 (CNA) The United States thinks conflict in the Taiwan Strait is unlikely after the March 22 presidential election in Taiwan and believes cross-strait tensions will ease slightly, a senior U.S. defense official said Tuesday.

    Reaffirming the U.S.' commitment to maintaining regional stability, Timothy J. Keating, commander of the United States Pacific Command, said the U.S. government is aware of China's military buildup and has cautioned both sides to avoid any untoward military activities.

    He said that the outlook of both of Taiwan's leading presidential candidates, who advocate a more moderate, less bellicose approach in their dealings with China, should also help stabilize the cross-strait situation. "So we're cautiously optimistic that a little bit of the steam will leave the kettle after the 22nd of March, " Keating said while testifying before the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

    He said during the "period of transition" between the election and the inauguration of the new president in May, the United States will continue to closely monitor cross-strait tensions. "I think it very unlikely that any hostilities will break out, " he added.

    Elaborating on his comments after the hearing, Keating said Washington thinks President Chen Shui-bian's rhetoric has been unhelpful to regional peace and stability, and hopes his successor would be more "responsible." "We're hopeful that the new elected president, whoever he might be, and the outgoing president continue to demonstrate responsible behavior in the form of something other than potentially inflammatory rhetoric," he said.

    Keating also stressed that the United States is closely watching movements by the Chinese military and reserves the right "to move our forces as we see fit." "We have spent considerable effort with parties from both sides to ask them to take a long, measured view of the situation in the Strait.... I see no reason for concern," he said.

(By Chiehyu Lin and Y.F. Low)

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