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Local military vessels to dock in Malaysia

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Malaysia has agreed to allow Taiwanese vessels that are on a mission in the South China Sea to locate a missing Malaysian airline to dock at Malaysian ports for supplies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday that the agreement will allow a R.O.C. Navy frigate and two Coast Guard vessels that the nation dispatched Monday to conduct a search and rescue mission in waters where the plane disappeared to refill their supplies and refuel.

Lin made the comments in response to ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Lin Yu-fang's (林郁方) question on the issue yesterday at a hearing of the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

The KMT lawmaker said the three Taiwanese vessels only brought with them 14 days of fresh water supplies, but it will take four days for them to arrive at the designated area for the mission and another four days to travel back to Taiwan.

This means the R.O.C. vessels could only engage in the mission for six days if they cannot replenish their supplies, he said.

If Taiwanese military vessels could dock at Malaysian ports, it would mean a major breakthrough for the country diplomatically given the fact that both sides lack official ties, the lawmaker said.

According to Lin, Taiwan is among the 12 countries that have engaged in the mission to locate any sign of missing flight MH370.

The minister added that the search and rescue mission is being coordinated by Malaysia's rescue authorities.

Under the instruction of Malaysian authorities, Taiwan has been assigned to be responsible for waters between Malaysia and Vietnam to help look for the Malaysia Airlines plane.

Taiwan's participation in the mission showcases the nation's determination to take part in international rescue efforts and humanitarian assistance, he said.

Participation in Rescue Mission

Taiwan has so far sent a total of three vessels and three sorties of C-130 military transport aircraft to look for the missing plane.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared from radar screens about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing early Saturday.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft, which was carrying 227 passengers — including Taiwanese national Chuang Hsiu-ling — and a 12-member crew, as it was flying over the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.

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