Wed, Dec 30, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan mulling US’ Afghan aid request

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH AFP

Taiwan is reviewing a request from the US to provide non-military assistance for operations in Afghanistan, foreign ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) told Agence France-Presse yesterday.

US President Barack Obama has pledged an extra 30,000 US troops to bolster the 71,000 who are already in Afghanistan fighting a Taliban-led insurgency that has become more virulent over the past year.

On Monday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) told the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee that the government had received a request to provide non-military aid to US troops in Afghanistan, such as medical or engineering assistance.

“From my understanding, the US has expressed the wish [to Taiwan], but we are deliberating on the matter carefully and haven’t made any decision. Sending personnel is one thing and making donations is another,” Yang said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokeswoman Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said yesterday the party supports Taiwan’s participation in any “peaceful, non-violent” international activities and the option of offering humanitarian assistance to the US in its war in Afghanistan should be considered carefully.

The US made the same request for assistance from Taiwan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as well as for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hsiao said.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vehemently opposed the idea at the time and accused the then-DPP government of currying favor with the US, Hsiao said.

The American Institute in Taiwan said yesterday it had nothing to say about the issue at the moment, but that it had forwarded inquiries about the request to Washington.

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