Tsai says US National Guard plans ‘cooperation’ with Taiwan military

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TAIPEI (Reuters) – The United States is planning “cooperation” between its national guard and the Taiwanese military, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, strengthening security ties amid what the Taipei government denounces as a growing threat from China.

The United States is, according to China, Taiwan’s most important international supporter and arms supplier, despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations. China has stepped up its military activities near Taiwan to assert its sovereignty claims.

China’s military said last week that it had recently conducted a drill around Taiwan as a “solemn warning” against its “collusion” with the United States.

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It came after US President Joe Biden angered China by appearing to signal a shift in a US policy of “strategic ambiguity” in Taiwan by saying the US would get involved militarily if China attacked the country. ‘island. US officials said there had been no change in policy.

Meeting with U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth at her office in Taipei, Tsai noted that Duckworth was a key sponsor of Taiwan’s partnership law, which had received bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress but has yet to be promulgated.

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“As a result, the US Department of Defense is now proactively planning cooperation between the US National Guard and the Taiwan Defense Forces,” Tsai said, without giving details.

Taiwanese media previously reported that Taiwan may partner with the Hawaii National Guard for the program.

“We look forward to closer and deeper cooperation between Taiwan and the United States on regional security issues,” Tsai added.

Duckworth said she was visiting to reiterate that her country stands with Taiwan and that there is “tremendous” support for the island from US lawmakers.

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Yet last week, Taiwan was not included in the United States’ Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, or IPEF, despite its lobbying efforts.

Tsai said Taiwan would continue to express its willingness to participate.

“In the near future, we look forward to Taiwan and the United States working together to take further steps to develop concrete plans that further deepen our economic partnership.”

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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