- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2001

The Pentagon is prepared to defend Taiwan and has developed contingency plans for military operations around the island, a spokesman said yesterday.
Pentagon officials, meanwhile, said secret talks between U.S. military planners and the Republic of China's military are set to begin shortly in Monterey, Calif. The talks have been held regularly for the past several years and are aimed a developing "contingency plans" for joint U.S.-Taiwanese military operations in the event of a war between China and Taiwan.
Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, the spokesman, also said the Pentagon is open to a suggestion made last week by President Chen Shui-bian for Taiwan to jointly develop theater missile defenses with Japan and the United States to counter China's growing short-range missile force deployed opposite the island.
The People's Republic of China views Taiwan as a breakaway province; Taiwan calls itself the Republic of China.
Joint regional missile-defense cooperation would be something decided by the area governments, Adm. Quigley said, noting that he was not aware of any recent discussions on the issue.
"Right now I think our commitment remains, at the government of the United States level, to the Taiwan defense act and all the tenets that we have tried so very hard to adhere to over the years," he said.
Joint missile defense would be different and would involve "new discussions" at high levels of the national governments, he said.
Mr. Chen said in an interview Friday with The Washington Times that Taiwan, Japan and the United States have mutual interests in cooperating on missile defenses to preserve the peace and stability of the region.
Taiwan is considering an investment in a missile-defense system but has not made any final decisions, Mr. Chen said.
On Mr. Chen's call for increased cooperation between the Pentagon and Taiwan's military, Adm. Quigley said the Pentagon also is open to increased cooperation within certain limits. "We have said for a long period of time that we are committed to providing for the necessary defensive needs of Taiwan. And we do that, and it manifests itself in a variety of ways: provision of armaments, training, parts, maintenance, things of that sort, to the systems that we provide to the Taiwanese."
Should Taiwan request additional military training or cooperation, "we would certainly consider that," Adm. Quigley said. Any "dramatic expansion of existing arrangements" would be a different issue and would require high-level U.S. government decisions, he said.
President Bush stated in a television interview in May that the United States would do "whatever it took" to defend Taiwan from a mainland attack, contradicting earlier ambiguous U.S. government positions.
Asked if the U.S. military could carry out such a defense, Adm. Quigley said: "We would do our absolute best to carry out the direction of the commander in chief."
Adm. Quigley said he did not know if the Pentagon had adjusted its war plans to defend the island but said the Pentagon had done military planning.
"We're very good at, over a period of many, many years, asking ourselves 'what if' questions and working either basic or quite advanced contingency plans for a variety of events that could happen around the world," he said. "I think contained within those is a wide variety of permutations and combinations of world events, and that would include that part of the world as well."

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