Sun, Aug 28, 2005 - Page 3 News List

US denies talks have been cancelled

ONLY MOVED The high-level US-Taiwan military talks that had reportedly been cancelled have only been postponed, Pentagon sources said in the US yesterday

BY CHARLES SNYDER  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Next month's planned high-level military talks between the US and Taiwan have not been cancelled, but have been postponed to enable high-level US defense officials to attend the talks, Pentagon sources say.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and US President George W. Bush are expected to be in New York to attend the 60th anniversary session of the UN General Assembly at the time that the US-Taiwan meeting had been scheduled, making it difficult for top-level US officials to focus on the Taiwan meetings, Pentagon sources say.

The UN session, to be held from Sept. 14 to Sept. 16, will come just one week after Bush and Hu meet in Washington on Sept. 7 for their first summit in the US capital since Hu became president in March, 2003. The summit, and the UN session, will occupy top US military and civilian policy makers throughout the first half of September, sources say, so it was felt that the US-Taiwan session should be deferred.

The US-Taiwan talks, often referred to as the "Monterey Talks" for the California city in which they have been held, were scheduled for Sept. 13 and Sept. 14. They are now expected to be held at around the end of the month.

Pentagon officials deny that the postponement was made because of Chinese opposition. They say that China has never raised the issue. The main reason for the postponement was that Taiwan would be expected to be offended if only low-level US officials attended the session, which would have been necessary if the talks went on as originally scheduled, they say.

"Given the high nature of [Hu's] visit, we wouldn't have been able to pay attention to the [Monterey] talks at the same high level as we would have before," a US official said.

Taiwan's de facto ambassador to Washington, David Lee (李大維), declined to comment on the issue, at his regular monthly "tea party" news conference with the Taiwanese Washington press corps.

"I don't want to comment on any sensitive subject, which may be counter-productive to bilateral interests," he told the Taipei Times.

Nevertheless, Lee noted that the Monterey Talks are just one in a number of bilateral interactions between Washington and Taipei.

"The best thing is to let the Chinese leaders know more about our position," Lee said.

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