UPDATE 2 - Taiwan thanks US for $345M arms package

UPDATE 2 - Taiwan thanks US for $345M arms package

Washington announced military aid after Congress approved $1B in weapons transfers for Taiwan in 2023 budget

UPDATES WITH STATEMENT FROM TAIWAN; CHANGES HEAD, DECK

By Rabia Iclal Turan

WASHINGTON/ANKARA (AA) — Taiwan on Saturday thanked the US for providing $345 million military aid, saying the move showed Washington's firm commitment to Taipei's security.

"The PDA (Presidential Drawdown Authority) is an important tool to shore up Taiwan's self-defense capabilities besides arms sales," the Focus Taiwan news website quoted National Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Sun Li-fang as saying.

Sun did not share further details about the military aid which will provide by the US to Taiwan.

This came after the US announced the military aid package for Taiwan on Friday. It is the first time Washington is sending equipment to the island nation from existing American stockpiles.

The White House said in a statement that President Joe Biden delegated US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to "direct the drawdown of up to $345 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training, to provide assistance to Taiwan."

A Pentagon spokesperson told Anadolu that the “drawdown includes self-defense capabilities that Taiwan will be able to use to bolster deterrence now and in the future.”

“Systems included in the $345 million package address critical defensive stockpiles, multi-domain awareness, anti-armor, and air defense capabilities,” the spokesperson added.

The package came as Congress authorized $1 billion in military aid to be provided to Taiwan under the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) in the 2023 budget.

Asked early Friday about the possible announcement, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby did not provide details, but said, "stay tuned."

“Obviously we take our responsibilities to Taiwan and to improving their self-defense capabilities very, very seriously,” said Kirby.

“Nothing’s changed about that. And we’ll continue to look for ways to do that," he added.

The move is likely to anger Beijing as relations between the US and China remain tense because of a Trump-era trade war, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's official visit to Taiwan and a suspected Chinese spy balloon above American territory.

Blinken and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently visited China to discuss ties.

China considers Taiwan its "breakaway province" while Taipei has insisted on its independence since 1949.

The US formally recognized China in 1979 and shifted diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, including Taiwan as part of mainland China.


*Islamuddin Sajid contributed to this story

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