Thu, Jul 26, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Top US commander confident of ability to defend Taiwan

AFP , WASHINGTON

The US has the capability to swiftly move military forces to defend Taiwan against a potential attack from China, the top US military commander in the Asia-Pacific region said on Tuesday.

Admiral Timothy Keating shrugged off suggestions at a Washington forum that the US, burdened by conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, did not have sufficient forces in the vicinity to respond quickly enough to an incursion on Taiwan by China.

"I don't lose sleep at night over our ability to respond to any crisis anywhere, including the Strait of Taiwan," Keating, the commander of the Pacific Command, declared at the forum organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Although the US has fewer troops in the "area of responsibility" now than about two decades ago, "we [the US military] are also capable of moving people around fairly quickly," he pointed out.

"We have ways of watching developments and doing better analyses -- much better than before. So in the Strait of Taiwan, in particular, we could get a large number of forces there in relatively short order," he said.

"The more unambiguous activity we notice and the earlier we make that analysis, obviously the more we can do," he said.

Asked whether the situation across the strait had deteriorated as a result of China's growing military strength, Keating said Chen's "rhetoric isn't entirely helpful."

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