Sat, Oct 02, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Powell defends arms sales to Taiwan

LEGAL OBLIGATION The US secretary of state and China's foreign minister politely disagreed over US policy on arms sales to Taiwan at a press conference yesterday


The US policy of selling weapons to Taiwan has always been based on the latter's self-defense needs and has not violated Washington's "one China" policy, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Thursday.

Powell made the remarks in response to questions at a joint press conference after a working lunch with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星), who visited New York to deliver a speech at the 59th UN General Assembly.

Powell lent his support to the US plan to sell Taiwan a multi-billion dollar package of weapons that is currently the subject of debate among Taiwan policy-makers.

"We had a good conversation on Taiwan arms sales," Powell said. "Our obligations under our domestic law with respect to the Taiwan Relations Act, in our judgment, are not in any way inconsistent with our one-China policy, and our obligations under that one-China policy and the three communiques," Powell said.

"I think our policy has served both nations, the United States and China, very, very well and Taiwan very, very well," he said.

In response to Powell's support of arms sales, Li expressed China's firm opposition to the sale of arms by any foreign country to Taiwan, issuing a veiled threat on the issue.

"We are firmly opposed to the sales of weapons by any foreign country to Taiwan, which is part of China, because we don't think it is in the interest of our peaceful efforts toward the resolution of the Taiwan question," Li said.

"It does not serve the interest of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. And eventually it will not serve the interests of those countries which are prepared to sell weapons to Taiwan," Li said.

Li, who was China's ambassador to Washington before becoming foreign minister, said his trip was like "coming back home, because I have so many friends here."

Noting the four meetings with Powell and the 15 phone calls the two have had this year, Li said, "if there is a sport in the world called `the phone calls between foreign ministers,' then perhaps we will get the gold medal."

Powell also said he is considering visiting China.

"I'm still looking at my schedule for the rest of the year. I always look forward to visiting China as a way of cementing the relationship -- and more than just cementing it, but building the relationship."

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