The White House on Thursday praised Taiwan’s enriched uranium policies, as more than 50 national leaders met in Washington for a two-day summit aimed at halting nuclear proliferation.
“With respect to Taiwan’s contributions, obviously they’ve made an important contribution along with others in getting rid of stockpiles of highly enriched uranium,” US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said.
He was addressing a news briefing following a trilateral meeting — held as the summit opened — between US President Barack Obama, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
A major focus of the summit is preventing organizations such as the Islamic State group from obtaining nuclear material or a nuclear device.
Obama has made securing nuclear material around the world a top priority.
A White House spokesman on Wednesday said that since Obama first initiated the current series of nuclear security summits, “13 countries, plus Taiwan, have eliminated their stockpile of highly enriched uranium — another tangible example of the progress that we have made.”
At Thursday’s news briefing Rhodes was asked why Taiwan — which was not invited to the summit — was singled out for special mention.
“The summit process obviously doesn’t encompass the entire world, but we do want to find ways to have partnerships beyond the summit participants. And so Taiwan’s cooperation, I think, sends an important message in Asia and around the world about the benefits of nuclear security,” he said.
The briefing was held shortly before Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for closed doors talks.
US National Security Council Asia Director Daniel Krittenbrink was asked if he expected Taiwan to be discussed during the Obama-Xi meeting.
“I do anticipate that it’s likely the issue of Taiwan will come up in the bilateral with President Xi because the issue of Taiwan almost always comes up in any meeting between our two presidents,” Krittenbrink said.
“What I’m confident will happen, if and when that issue is raised, is that President Obama will make very clear that we remain committed to our ‘one China’ policy based on both the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act,” he said. “I’m confident he’ll also make very clear that we have welcomed the historic progress in cross-strait relations over the last eight years.”
The US would like to see that progress — “peace and stability” — continue, Krittenbrink said.
“Our fundamental national interest of course is in the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. We have encouraged both counterparts in Beijing and Taipei to continue that work as the new DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] administration comes into power in Taipei,” he said.
Asked about the US priority interest and priority concern as president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) prepares to take office, Rhodes said: “Our ‘one China’ policy has made clear that our overriding interest is in maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
“I think we’ve had very clear and candid discussion with both Beijing and Taipei about that. And again, if the issue come up this afternoon, I’m confident that that’s the message the president will convey to President Xi,” Rhodes said.
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