The US Department of State on Thursday said it appreciates Taiwan’s commitment to providing humanitarian assistance as part of the US-led coalition to counter the Islamic State (IS) group.
“We certainly appreciate those contributions as we appreciate the contributions of all coalition members,” US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said at a news briefing when asked to comment on Taiwan’s attendance at the coalition meeting on Wednesday, and its pledge to continue providing humanitarian assistance in Iraq and Syria.
“I think an important thing to emphasize is that big or small, whatever role any coalition member can play and partner can play, we appreciate it,” Toner said. “I think what the message yesterday was we all need to see how we can do more to finish this.”
Representative to the US Stanley Kao (高碩泰) and officials representing 67 other coalition members attended the meeting in Washington which was presided over by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the first such gathering since US President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20.
Kao was also invited to pose for a photograph with Tillerson and other officials. It is rare for a Taiwanese official to attend a public event in a US government building due to the two nations’ lack of official diplomatic ties.
At the news conference, Toner said Tillerson also noted the more than US$2 billion identified by coalition partners for humanitarian, stabilization and demining needs, and “called on all partners to rapidly fulfill their commitments.”
Members have pledged more than US$2 billion in assistance for Iraq and Syria this year, although the amount of Taiwan’s contribution is unknown.
The coalition, which was established in 2014 under the administration of then-US president Barack Obama, has 68 members. In addition to Taiwan, other partners from the Asia-Pacific region include Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.
Taiwan’s participation has consisted of humanitarian assistance, including the donation of 350 temporary housing units and US$100,000 in 2014 for refugees in Iraq displaced by the Islamic State.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that Taiwan donated funds in January to help set up mobile hospitals in Iraq and would continue offering humanitarian assistance in the region, as well as help clear mines once fighting ceases.
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