Sat, Mar 16, 2002 - Page 3 News List

US says it won't force cross-strait talks

AMERICAN COMMITMENT The US assistant secretary of state for East Asia says his country's policy hasn't changed and that it has no plans to pressure Taiwan into talks

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The US is not trying to force Taiwan to enter into cross-strait talks to reach a solution modeled after a preferred US design, a senior US official said Thursday.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia James Kelly told reporters that was the message he was trying to get across when he reaffirmed Washington's commitment to the so-called "six assurances" in a speech to a US-Taiwan defense summit in Florida earlier this week.

He said he also wanted to convey the fact that the US does not plan to mediate any cross-strait talks.

In a wide-ranging press briefing, Kelly also said he expects that a new director of the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) will be named "in the next few weeks," and played down news reports that Washington's new nuclear posture would have it use nuclear weapons if there were an incident in the Taiwan Strait.

He also said that Defense Minister Tang Yao-ming's (湯曜明) meeting at the Florida conference with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz did not represent a change in US policy regarding the level of US-Taiwan official meetings.

The "six assurances" were unveiled by former president Reagan when he signed the Aug. 17, 1982, joint communique between the US and China, which committed Washington to eventually phase out arms sales to Taiwan.

The assurances said that the US would not set a deadline for stopping the arms sales or discuss the sales with China. They also pledged that Washington would not act as a go-between in relations between the two sides, revise the Taiwan Relations Act or force Taiwan to negotiate with China.

"The part I wanted to mention," Kelly said, "is that with respect to cross-strait issues, the US has no intention to be a mediator and certainly has no intent to try to tell Taiwan to enter into talks.

"It just seems that there has been some apprehension that maybe the US was trying to come up with some model for a cross-strait solution and I just felt that the audience of business people and other private types that were there needed to understand that our policy never has been to do that, and it still [isn't]," he said.

Recent comments "do not represent any change in policy. It has to do with the familiar language of our "one-China" policy, bounded by the three US-China communiques, governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, and focused on peaceful resolution across the Strait," he said.

Kelly added that current policy does not prohibit Tang's meeting with Wolfowitz

"I'm not aware of a particular limitation on meetings" between US and Taiwan officials, he said, despite the fact that in the past, most official contacts in Washington have been restricted to the assistant secretary level, rather than the higher deputy secretary or secretary level.

Tang was the first Taiwanese defense chief granted a visa in at least 22 years.

"I would not read anything into that particular situation," he said.

With regard to the delayed expected appointment of Douglas Paal as director of AIT, Kelly admitted that he had been "disappointed" that Paal was not moved into the position months ago.

Asked in November when the appointment would be made, Kelly said it would be "in a matter of weeks."

"I was hopeful then and have been disappointed that we haven't been able to make an announcement during that time," he said Thursday. "But I frankly do expect that we will be able to make an announcement in the next few weeks. But you know it's the nature of the world and of the bureaucracy that until something actually happens, it doesn't happen."

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