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Taiwan to continue seeking U.S. advanced weapons: president (update)
Central News Agency
2013-01-15 07:31 PM
Taipei, Jan. 15 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou told a visiting U.S. senator Tuesday that Taiwan will continue to seek purchases of advanced weapons from the United States to bolster national security. Ma told visiting Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a long-time supporter of arms sales to Taiwan, that the weapons are needed to safeguard the nation and keep the peace in the Taiwan Strait region. In the meantime, Taiwan will also make efforts to improve relations with China and boost exchanges between the two sides to make reconciliation "the first line of defense of the Republic of China," Ma said, in apparent reference to Taiwan's struggle against China's unification attempts. China has regarded Taiwan as part of its territory since the ROC government relocated to the island after losing the civil war on the mainland in 1949. During the meeting, Ma also talked about the controversial territorial issue concerning the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea. Reiterating that the island group is an inherent part of ROC territory, the president said that "sovereignty cannot be divided but the resources can be shared. " It was upon this concept that he based his "East China Sea peace initiative" proposal, calling for all parties concerned to shelve their disputes and engage in talks on joint exploration and development, he said. "I have studied the Diaoyutais issue for over 40 years. I have profound confidence in the idea," Ma said. Murkowski, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, arrived in Taiwan a day earlier for a three-day visit that Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) described as a show of friendship and support for Taiwan by the U.S. Congress. According to the MOFA, Murkowski's visit is aimed at gaining better knowledge of Taiwan's energy, economic and trade policies, Taiwan-U.S relations and current cross-Taiwan Strait conditions. Later in the day, Murkowski told local reporters that she had a "productive" meeting with Ma and touched on many issues. The senator said she raised concerns over the treatment of jailed former President Chen Shui-bian. "I have inquired about his status and his health," she said. "I think it's important that as a former president, he is treated with a level of respect and care," she added. Although she had hoped to meet Chen in person, she was unable to do so due to time constraints. In response, Ma said Chen is given better treatment than other prison inmates and that he has been receiving good medical care at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, according to Bruce Linghu, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of North American Affairs, who was also present at the meeting. Chen, who is serving an 18.5-year prison term for corruption, has been at the hospital since Sept. 21 due to various health complaints, including severe depression, benign enlargement of the prostate and urinary tract and prostate infections. Meanwhile, Murkowski said she also discussed trade issues with Ma, particularly the cooperation opportunities between her state of Alaska and Taiwan on natural gas and coal resources. Noting that Taiwan relies heavily on imports of energy resources, Ma said he expects both sides to seek further cooperation in energy-related areas, according to a statement released by the Presidential Office. (By Kelven Huang, Elizabeth Hsu and Elaine Hou)
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