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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Arms sales symbolize improved Taiwan-U.S. mutual trust: president

ROC Central News Agency

08/10/11 19:11:09

By Y.F. Low

Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Saturday the recent move by the United States to sell weapons to Taiwan symbolizes an initial improvement in trust between the two countries after it was seriously undermined during the tenure of the previous Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

The sale was "very important" to both Taiwan and the United States because the weapons systems will meet Taiwan's defense needs and demonstrate Taiwan's determination to defend itself, Ma asserted as he met with a U.S. scholarly delegation led by John Hamre, president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Despite concerns the Bush administration would pass off a decision on selling advanced weapons to Taiwan to its successor, it notified Congress on Oct. 3 that it had approved a package of possible arms sales to Taiwan.

The package includes 30 Apache attack helicopters, 330 advanced capability Patriot (PAC-3) missiles, 32 Harpoon sub-launched missiles, 182 guided Javelin missile rounds, and four E-2T system upgrades.

Ma pointed out that in his May 20 inaugural address, he pledged that Taiwan would procure the necessary defensive weapons systems from foreign countries while working to improve the country's relations with China.

The arms package provided by the U.S. government represents not only U.S. recognition of Taiwan's efforts in improving cross-Taiwan Strait ties but also a continuation of U.S.-Taiwan security cooperation, he said.

Also helpful to the restoration of mutual trust between Taipei and Washington was his decision to keep his August U.S. stopovers low-profile, Ma continued.

According to Ma, the purpose of the decision was to make the United States and the world realize that he had no intention of engaging in any unnecessary activities that might raise the concern of the host country.

On Taiwan's quest for broader international space, Ma said the government has adopted a pragmatic approach and promoted a bid for Taiwan's "meaningful participation" in U.N. specialized agencies, in substitution for the high-profile drive pushed by the former DPP administration for U.N. membership under the name "Taiwan."

The latest bid "unexpectedly" received positive responses in the international community, with the United States openly expressing its support through its mission to the United Nations, Ma noted.

"This has increased our confidence in the strategy that we are following," he said.

In terms of cross-strait relations, Ma said ties have been progressing steadily since the two sides resumed dialogue in June after a hiatus of almost 10 years.

Following the launch of nonstop cross-strait charter flights on weekends, the arrival of Chinese tourists to Taiwan and cross-strait currency trading over the past months, the two sides will soon begin negotiations on the opening of more direct cross-strait air routes, cargo charter flights and direct shipping links, he said.

According to the president, Taiwan will also seek to discuss with China issues concerning Taiwan's international space, on the condition that the country's sovereignty and interests are protected.

Although the opposition is strongly critical of the "modus vivendi" approach adopted by Ma's administration, the president argued that the government "has so far not damaged Taiwan's dignity a bit, " but has instead won more friends than before and restored the trust of many friends in Taiwan.

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