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September 26, 2017

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Taiwan and US talk submarine issue: US Naval official

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A senior United States naval official confirmed on Monday that Taiwan and the United States recently discussed the latter's efforts to acquire submarines from the U.S. or build its own submarines.

Speaking during a seminar in Washington, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert made the remarks when asked to comment on whether the U.S. and Taiwan have discussed Taiwan's possible purchase of new submarines from the U.S. or if the U.S. will help Taiwan to build its own submarines.

In response, Greenert has confirmed that both sides have touched on submarine issues, without further elaboration, according to a Central News Agency report.

The U.S. official made the comments at a seminar held by the foreign policy think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington on the Asia-Pacific rebalance.

Commenting on the same issue on the same occasion, Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former director of the American Institute in Taiwan's (AIT) Taipei office, expressed his personal support for Taiwan to have more submarines.

The move will help Taiwan to better patrol its surrounding waters and seas to its south to jointly contribute to the security of the region, which is also beneficial to the U.S., Paal noted.

Defense and Foreign Ministries' Responses

Asked to comment on the submarine issue, military spokesman Luo Shao-he yesterday said that Taiwan has been pushing the U.S. to sell it diesel-powered submarines for some time, but Washington has yet to make a final decision.

The military is also weighing other options, including studying the feasibility of building diesel-electric submarines itself, he added.

But there are major challenges before Taiwan can start to build locally developed submarines as Taiwan is in need of assistance to be provided by the U.S. or other countries on key technologies, Luo noted.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said that as an important economic and security partner of the U.S., Taipei and Washington have been in close contact on various issues on a regular basis.

All U.S. arms sales projects have been going smoothly as planned, MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said.

The ministry will continue to push for the U.S. arms sales and make sure Washington will keep selling Taipei defensive arms as stipulated by the Taiwan Relations Act (台灣關係法, TRA) and the "six assurances," she added.

Currently four submarines are in active service in Taiwan: two Dutch-built submarines from the 1980s, and two U.S. Guppy-class submarines built during World War II.

Taiwan has been asking the U.S. to sell diesel-powered submarines for more than a decade in the hope of replacing the decades-old subs.

In 2001, the administration of former U.S. President George Bush offered to provide eight diesel-electric submarines. But so far, no significant process toward the sale has been made.

Meanwhile, veteran Kuomintang lawmaker Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who is currently visiting the U.S. with a cross-parties congressional delegation, yesterday told local media that his delegation is scheduled to meet senior U.S. officials and congressmen to exchange views on different bilateral issues, including arms sales.

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