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Former US official: Taiwan-US partnership stronger than ever

April 15, 2021 GMT
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From left, former U.S. senator Chris Dodd, former U.S. Deputies Secretary of State James Steinberg and Richard Armitage have their photo taken with Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu upon arrival in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. The former U.S. senator and two ex-State Department officials arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday at a time of tense relations with China, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said. (Pool Photo via AP)
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From left, former U.S. senator Chris Dodd, former U.S. Deputies Secretary of State James Steinberg and Richard Armitage have their photo taken with Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu upon arrival in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. The former U.S. senator and two ex-State Department officials arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday at a time of tense relations with China, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said. (Pool Photo via AP)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan’s president and an unofficial delegation of former senior U.S. government officials sent by President Joe Biden reaffirmed “rock solid” U.S.-Taiwan ties, amid heightened tensions with China.

The U.S. has expressed a “rock solid support for Taiwan,” President Tsai Ing-wen said Thursday in opening remarks before the two sides met in Taipei, the island’s capital.

“I can see with confidence that the United States’ partnership with Taiwan is stronger than ever,” former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd said. “We share deep economic ties and mutual commitment to democratic values, and critically important security partnership.”

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Dodd, a Democratic senator from Connecticut from 1981 to 2011, was accompanied by two former deputy secretaries of state, James Steinberg from the Democratic Obama administration and Richard Armitage, who served under Republican President George W. Bush.

The delegation arrived Wednesday and met with Tsai Thursday and they’ll meet with other officials during their three-day visit, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said.

U.S. support for Taiwan is coming at a time of increased naval maneuvers and flybys by China’s military in the waters and airspace around the island.

China considers the island as its own territory, and has made reunification with Taiwan a long-term goal, although the island is self-ruled.

On Monday, China sent a record 25 fighter jets towards Taiwan, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense.

Tsai said she was willing to work with like-minded countries, including the U.S. “to jointly safeguard the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific and deter adventure maneuvers and provocations.”