Obama Commends Taiwan Arms Sale
Updated 4:30 p.m.
By Glenn Kessler
Sen. Barack Obama today welcomed the Bush administration's decision to sell $6 billion of military equipment to Taiwan, but unlike his presidential campaign rival, Sen. John McCain, he did not call for the administration to also add submarines and F-16 aircraft.
"Senator Obama welcomes the Bush Administration's decision to notify Congress concerning the package of weapons systems for Taiwan. This package represents an important response to Taiwan's defense needs. This action is fully consistent with U.S. obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act. The sale helps to contribute to Taiwan's defense and the maintenance of a healthy balance in the Taiwan Strait," said Wendy Morigi, national security spokesperson for Obama, in a statement.
"Senator Obama strongly supports the reduction of tensions between China and Taiwan, and commends China's President Hu Jintao and Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou for their efforts in that regard. A strengthening of Taiwan's defenses will not undermine the process of reduction of tensions and can actually promote it," she added.
On Tuesday, the GOP presidential nominee said the White House did not go far enough when it said it would sell 330 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles and 30 Apache Block III Longbow Attack helicopters.
"The package will not include submarines or new F-16 aircraft. I urge the administration to reconsider this decision, in light of its previous commitment to provide submarines and America's previous sales of F-16s," McCain said.
The Obama campaign declined to comment on whether he supported or opposed adding the submarines and F-16 aircraft to the package, saying the statement stood by itself even though it did not address those issues. The submarines were originally included in the arms package that President Bush proposed in 2001.
The White House announcement so angered China that it canceled senior-level visits to the United States. "Senator Obama regrets that China has responded by suspending military-to-military exchanges with the U.S. and nonproliferation talks," Morigi said. "These discussions are in the interest of both sides, and should be resumed."
Posted at 10:49 AM ET on Oct 8, 2008
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