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Former U.S. defense chief backs sale of F-16 jets to Taiwan

ROC Central News Agency

2011/02/23 22:22:30

Washington, Feb. 22 (CNA) Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday that he supports the sale of U.S. F-16 C/D fighter jets to Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act.

Rumsfeld made the remarks at the launch of his new book titled "Known and Unknown, " in response to a question raised by the Central News Agency.

Rumsfeld, who served as defense secretary in the administration of former President George W. Bush, said that Washington should offer military assistance to Taiwan, given that China has deployed many missiles against the island.

But Rumsfeld said that if a cross-strait conflict erupts, it would be an example of terribly handled diplomacy, because such a conflict would be totally unnecessary.

However, he said, he thinks there is little possibility that such a conflict will occur since both Taiwan and China have been engaged in economic and tourist exchanges.

Rumsfeld said he believes Taipei and Beijing can solve their differences with good behavior and wise diplomacy.

Taiwan has been trying for a long while to procure U.S. F-16 C/D fighters to replace its aging fleet.

But the administration of President Barack Obama was reportedly planning to help upgrade the F-16 A/B jets in the Taiwan Air Force rather than supply Taiwan with the more advanced F-16 C/D aircraft.

Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. is obligated to provide defense weapons to Taiwan. (By Jorge Liu & Bear Lee) ENDITEM/ pc

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