Fri, Jan 23, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Too early to tell how new US team will handle ties

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

It is too early to tell how Washington will handle military cooperation with Taiwan under US President Barack Obama, but bilateral relations are improving steadily, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.

On Wednesday, a group of academics at a forum sponsored by Taiwan Thinktank said that the US could halt sales of high-tech weapons to Taiwan in the next two or three years to maintain a friendly working relationship with Beijing, which, as a major economic power, could play a crucial role in resuscitating the global economy.

STOP SALES

The Chinese defense ministry on Tuesday openly urged Washington to stop all arms sales to Taiwan.

“It is too early to make any definitive conclusion on the issue because both sides have yet to fully complete an arms deal signed by the previous administration,” Harry Tseng (曾厚仁), director-general of the foreign ministry’s Department of North American Affairs, said at a press conference yesterday, adding that many of the items on the last list still had not been delivered.

NO ANNOUNCEMENT

The Obama administration has yet to announce a new director at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) or a new ambassador to China.

Richard Bush, who served as AIT chairman under former US president Bill Clinton, has reportedly been tapped to take over the Taipei office later this year.

FRIENDLY FACES

Meanwhile, the Washington-based Nelson Report said some Taiwan-friendly faces have been tapped to be on Obama’s foreign policy team, including Jeff Bader as senior director of the National Security Council, Kurt Campbell as assistant secretary of state on East Asia and Pacific Affairs and Jim Steinberg as deputy secretary of state.

Tseng yesterday refused to comment on Bush’s rumored appointment, saying it was the AIT’s prerogative to make the announcement. He also declined to comment on the names cited in the Nelson Report, except to say the nation would be happy to have more of its friends in the new administration.

PRAYERS

In other developments, Tseng said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), National Youth Commission Chairwoman Wang Yu-ting (王昱婷) and Chinese Culture University professor Yang Tai-shun (楊泰順) have accepted an invitation to attend the US’ annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington next month.

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