A delegation led by former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen arrived in Taipei yesterday afternoon for discussions with top-level officials on regional peace and security, among other topics.
The delegation, which includes four other former US defense and security officials and their staffers, departed for Taiwan on a US government aircraft on Monday and arrived at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:13pm yesterday.
On arrival, they were greeted by Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮).
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) at a news conference in Taipei earlier yesterday said that the government warmly welcomed the two-day visit by the delegation, which was sent by US President Joe Biden in reflection of his nation’s rock-solid commitment to Taiwan amid the unfolding Ukraine crisis.
Led by Mullen, the delegation also includes Meghan O’Sullivan, a former deputy national security adviser under former US president George W. Bush, and Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense in former US president Barack Obama’s administration.
The delegation is scheduled to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) today to discuss regional peace and stability, Taiwan-US relations and various areas of bilateral cooperation, the government said.
The former US officials would also meet with Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and other top-level officials during their two-day visit, it said.
The visit by the delegation underlines “the importance of Taiwan-US relations,” “Taiwan’s important status,” and “the US’ emphasis on regional peace and its firm support for Taiwan,” Su told reporters yesterday morning ahead of a meeting at the legislature in Taipei.
A senior official in the Biden administration, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the trip is intended to “demonstrate our continued robust support for Taiwan,” Reuters reported.
However, the official declined to say whether the timing of the visit was influenced by Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Reuters said.
Meanwhile, a Taiwanese national security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, on Monday told the Central News Agency that Biden’s selection of former senior defense and security officials was meant to offer “reassurance” of the US’ commitment to peace and security in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific region.
Furthermore, the visit, which comes less than a year after Biden sent a delegation to Taiwan led by US Senator Christopher Dodd, suggests that Washington might be seeking a new approach for fast and effective official contacts with Taipei, on top of the existing communication mechanisms, the Taiwanese official said.
Chieh Chung (揭仲), an associate research fellow at the National Policy Foundation in Taipei, said that the discussions between the delegation and Taiwanese officials were likely to cover “new topics” rather than just regular or existing projects.
The delegation might offer advice on Taiwan’s national defense policy, building up the military and overall security improvements during the visit, which is meant to demonstrate the US’ desire to maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait, Chieh said.
Speaking at an online event organized by US think tank the German Marshall Fund on US-Europe cooperation in Asia, US National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell on Monday said that the US government would show its determination in the coming months to sustain high-level engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.
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