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US to keep selling weapons: ex-AIT head

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The United States government will adhere to its commitment to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons to maintain its self-defense capabilities, a visiting former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director said yesterday in Taipei.

Douglas Paal, former AIT director in Taipei, yesterday told local media that U.S. government has remained highly committed to providing Taiwan with adequate defense services and equipment to maintain an effective deterrence against possible invasion.

“The whole point of the long-standing relationship between U.S. and Taiwan is to make sure that Taiwan has adequate defenses so that they can be a force for stability,” Paal said.

“Weakness breeds instability and a weak Taiwan could be a source of tension and instability in the region,” the former AIT official said.

He believes that the Obama administration or any U.S. government will continue to adhere to its commitment to provide Taiwan defense services and equipment so that the latter can maintain an effective deterrence against attack.

Paal made the comments in response to a reporter's question as to whether Washington would change its stance on selling Taipei weapons amid the U.S. government's ongoing rebalancing policy to the Asian-Pacific region.

Paal is visiting Taipei to participate an annual East China Sea Peace Forum yesterday, during which he delivered an address at a luncheon.

Amid rising sovereignty tensions in the Asian-Pacific region, President Ma Ying-jeou proposed the East China Sea Peace Initiative on Aug., 5, 2012, calling on all parties involved to refrain from hostile actions, put aside their differences, engage in dialogue, observe international law and resolve disputes through peaceful means.

The forum was first held in 2013.

Paal Lauds Peace Initiative

Meanwhile, Paal yesterday lauded Ma's proposed peace initiative, saying that the initiative is a “positive thing” that could serve as model for solutions to other countries in the Asian-Pacific region.

Expressing worries that the rising nationalism in Asia could lead to more military tensions in the future, Paal said he is supportive of the initiative that is aimed at “trying to find solutions to friction among the states in the region.”

Citing a recent example when a group of students in the Asian-Pacific region visited his office, Paal said normally when he has students come to his office, they ask about job opportunities or good schools.

“But this time they were all arguing with each other. Vietnamese with Chinese, Japanese with Korean,” he said. “This is a not a healthy development.”

He urged Asian-Pacific countries to learn from Ma's initiative and Taiwan's successful example with Japan and the Philippines to handle sovereignty disputes in the region, in an attempt to shift the emphasis from friction over resources to cooperation.

Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, was the director of the Taipei Office of the AIT from 2002-2006.

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