US should aid Taiwan with security dialogues: official

HELP WANTED:: Ko Cheng- heng, deputy minister of national defense, said the US could help the nation open security talks with other Asia-Pacific countries

WITH CNA  /  STAFF WRITER , ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND

Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 3

Taiwan would like the US' assistance in launching security dialogues with Asia-Pacific countries such as Japan, Deputy Minister of National Defense Ko Cheng-heng (柯承亨) said in Annapolis, Maryland, on Tuesday.

Ko, who led a Taiwanese delegation at the sixth annual US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, made the remarks at a press conference before the close of the two-day event.

China is using military intimidation to prevent Taiwan from declaring de jure independence and hindering its efforts to develop a security dialogue with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Ko said.

As a result, Taiwan needs US assistance to open channels for dialogue with other Asia-Pacific countries on defense strategies and military exchanges, Ko told the conference.

Asked whether the US opposition to Taiwan's plan to hold a referendum on its bid to join the United Nations under the name "Taiwan" had affected military exchanges between the two countries, Ko said he had not noticed any changes.

"We share a strong consensus that military exchanges and cooperation should not be affected by political and electoral issues," Ko said, adding that the two countries had multi-layer dialogue channels for defense matters.

What the two sides still lack are high-level direct channels for dialogue on political issues, Ko said.

He said the two sides should establish a hotline for direct high-level communications in the event of an emergency in the Taiwan Strait.

Ko also took the occasion to clarify the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration's defense policy after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Su Chi (蘇起) claimed in a speech delivered on the first day of the conference that the DPP had adopted an "offensive" defense policy since winning the presidency in May 2000.

Denying that the administration had adopted such a strategy, Ko said that the DPP had inherited the KMT administration's defense plan, adding that it had not made any changes to the nation's defense strategy.

"We have consistently upheld a defensive strategy with the establishment of an elite deterrent force as our defense policy," Ko said.

As for the nation's plan to purchase F-16 C/D fighter aircraft from the US, Ko said Washington had not yet reached a decision on the matter.