Mon, Jan 28, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Bill to boost US-Taiwan ties tabled in Washington

‘VITAL ALLY’:US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s proposed Taiwain policy act calls for Taipei to be treated like other US allies and for the authorization of arms sales

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

Bipartisan legislation strongly supporting the strengthening of US-Taiwan relations has been introduced into the US Congress.

US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the former chairwoman of the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, proposed the Taiwan policy act of 2013 on Friday.

“Taiwan is a vital ally of the US and should be treated as such,” Ros-Lehtinen said as she introduced the bill.

Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, introduced an earlier version of the bill in the last Congress, but election-year politics stopped it from coming to a vote.

The new bill seeks to “further diplomatic relations with Taiwan” and allow Taiwanese leaders to meet with US officials of all executive government branches.

Current US laws severely restrict who Taiwanese politicians can see and what they are allowed to do when on US soil.

The new bill also calls for the signing of a comprehensive extradition agreement with Taiwan and authorizes the sale of F-16C/D aircraft to the Taiwanese military.

In addition, it calls for the transfer of decommissioned guided missile frigates to Taiwan.

Congressional Taiwan Caucus co-chairs Albio Sires, Mario Diaz-Balart, Gerald Connolly and John Carter are co-sponsoring the bill.

“With the growing antagonism of the Kim [Jong-un] regime in North Korea and the ever-expanding territorial ambitions of China, our alliance with the democratic nation of Taiwan is even more important,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Taiwanese leaders must be allowed to meet with US officials in all executive branches and have full access and recognition just like any other ally, no exceptions.”

Alongside the Taiwan bill, Ros-Lehtinen also introduced the Egypt accountability and democracy promotion act to crack down on extremist groups in Egypt and support human rights and freedoms in that country.

“The challenges facing our nation and allies around the world are growing,” she said. “In order to meet these challenges head on, concrete action must be taken.”

She said that the bills were aimed at meeting new challenges facing US interests throughout the world.

“From supporting our vital ally, Taiwan, to confronting the [President Mohamed] Morsi regime in Egypt, we must act responsibly and prioritize our foreign policy objectives,” she said.

The Taiwan policy act of 2013 would not amend or supersede the Taiwan Relations Act.

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