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Candidate Romney backs selling F-16s to Taiwan: adviser

The China Post news staff--Republican Mitt Romney's campaign adviser Aaron Friedberg said at a China policy debate with Obama's adviser at John Hopkins University in Washington yesterday that Romney supports the U.S. sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.

Friedberg, an international affairs professor at Princeton University, said that despite reduced tensions across the Taiwan Strait, a longtime regional flashpoint, the situation remained unpredictable. He said Romney supported the sale of new F-16 fighter jets where Taiwan requests them. Fearing a backlash from Beijing, Obama opted in 2011 only to upgrade the self-governing island's existing fleet of F-16s.

The Romney adviser welcomed Obama's increased focus on Asia but said the approach has been inconsistent and ineffective, leaving allies uncertain about whether the U.S. looks to retain a presence in the region.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bader, a former top Obama aid on Asia policy, conceded that efforts to get China to pressure its ally North Korea over its nuclear program had mixed results. He said in a second term, Obama wouldn't be afraid of direct talks with Pyongyang leading to resumption of a stalled six-nation dialogue. But it would require preconditions, including a moratorium on North Korean nuclear and missile tests, and the halting of uranium enrichment.

Friedberg advocated tighter financial sanctions, saying more pressure was needed before negotiations with North Korea could yield results. He likened its government to a criminal organization financed by the drug trade, counterfeiting and illicit arms sales.

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