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Obama urged to support Taiwan during Hu visit

WASHINGTON -- One quarter of U.S. senators have written a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to keep Taiwan's security interests in mind when he meets Chinese President Hu Jintao next Wednesday at the White House.

Taiwan has a solid democratic system and is a close trade partner and a long term ally of the United States, the senators said in the letter, asking Obama to reiterate to Hu that the United States supports Taiwan's security and will continue to provide it with defensive arms, as required under the Taiwan Relations Act.

They asked Obama to emphasize to Hu that the United States will be gravely concerned if Taiwan's future is not resolved through peaceful means, which they said will be viewed as a threat to security in the West Pacific.

In line with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is firmly committed to ensuring Taiwan that it has capabilities to defend itself, as China has continuously engaged in a military buildup and has not removed its missiles aimed at Taiwan or denounced the use of force against the island, the letter said.

The letter was signed by a total of 25 U.S. senators, including Roberts Menendez and James Inhofe, two co-chairs of the Senate's Taiwan Caucus; Jon Kyl, one of the six members of the Senate Republican leadership and Jim Webb, who now chairs the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs.

Hu's three-day state visit to the United States starts from Tuesday amid strained relations between the two countries over a series of incidents, including U.S. claims that China's currency renminbi is undervalued and China's anger about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

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