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The Journal Gazette

Friday, March 14, 2014 8:25 am

Lawmakers push for stronger US ties with Taiwan

WASHINGTON (AP) Lawmakers are pushing the Obama administration to strengthen relations with Taiwan and voicing concern that U.S. defense budget cuts will affect planned upgrades to the self-governing island's fleet of F-16s.

Both Republicans and Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee accused the administration Friday of prioritizing U.S. relations with China over those with Taiwan, particularly when it comes to defense sales.

Top-ranking Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel says he's very concerned about plans to defund an U.S. Air Force program next year on upgrading F-16s. He says that could adversely impact Taiwan's ability to proceed with improvements to its fleet of about 150 F-16s at "reasonable cost."

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kin Moy told lawmakers the upgrades of Taiwan's jets the U.S. authorized in 2011 would not be affected significantly.