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US mum on counter-terrorism center delay: MOFA

The United States so far has not expressed concern over the construction delay of a counter-terrorism training center currently being built in Taiwan, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

Kelly Hsieh (謝武樵), head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' (MOFA) Department of North American Affairs, told local media yesterday that the construction project of Taiwan's first national counter-terrorism training center in northern Taoyuan County was the responsibility of the National Police Agency (NPA, 警政署).

The Foreign Ministry thus has no comment on the reported delay on the construction project.

However, he stressed that Taipei and Washington have long had excellent collaboration and have been working closely in the field of counter-terrorism.

Hsieh noted that the U.S. side has so far not expressed any concern over the reported delay on the project via official diplomatic channels.

The MOFA official made the remarks when asked to comment on a report from a local newspaper that said the U.S. side has been keeping close tabs on the latest developments in the construction project in Taiwan.

The construction project at Sinwu District in Taoyuan County was officially launched on July 2011 and was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013 and officially open in July this year.

However, the project has been seriously delayed.

 Quoting unidentified national security sources, the Chinese-language Liberty Times report said the delay in the project could have negative impacts to Taiwan-U.S. cooperation in counter-terrorism.

 According to the NPA, the delay was caused by a contractor responsible for the construction project. The original contractor that won the bid was facing financial difficulty and was thus unable to complete the project on time.

 The NPA has now reopened the project for bidding in the hope that a new contractor can be responsible for the project. If everything goes well, the training center could be completed by the end of next year, the NPA said.

 The NT$550 million training center, once completed, will feature numerous simulated training areas and a battle-training site.

 The government plans to use the center to provide advanced training that will help it conduct anti-terrorism operations, according to the NPA.

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