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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Aircraft carrier patrol in Taiwan region `routine': U.S. official

ROC Central News Agency

2008-03-20 21:42:42

    Taipei, March 20 (CNA) Patrols around Taiwan by two U.S. aircraft carriers, including the USS Kitty Hawk CV-63, are part of routine drills, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Taipei Office Director Stephen Young said Thursday.

    Young made the remarks at a reception co-organized by the Central Election Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to welcome 290 foreign delegates who have come to Taiwan to observe Saturday's presidential election.

    Noting that aircraft carriers also patrolled near Taiwan during past presidential elections, Young said the AIT is "confident in the people of Taiwan, the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)."

    The missions of the two aircraft carriers, participating in a drill program in the waters off Taiwan, was confirmed by Pentagon officials earlier in the day. "This is an ordinary drill, " said Young, adding that it is not necessarily related to Taiwan.

    Turning to the election campaign, Young said the U.S. government is confident in Taiwan's democratic development, as well as with the abilities of the two parties to hold a peaceful election. "The Taiwanese government is also capable of providing the two candidates with enough security, " he added when asked about concerns over the safety of the two candidates.

    However, Young declined to comment on whether KMT presidential hopeful Ma Ying-jeou still possesses a U.S. green card, an issue over which Ma has been severely questioned by his opponents during the campaign and which he has denied.

    He also remained tight-lipped over what Theresa Shaheen, a former AIT chairwoman who is visiting Taiwan, has said during her stay, pointing out that she is no longer part of the U.S. government.

(By Howard Lin)

ENDITEM/J



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