Taiwan part of Indo-Pacific strategy network: ex-U.S. defense chief

Taipei, July 24 CNA) Taiwan is part of the new "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" strategy proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Tuesday in Taipei.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a forum in which he was invited to speak, Carter said he has "been part of" the U.S.'s broader Indo-Pacific strategy, "which favors an inclusive network of countries pursuing security in a way that is based upon rules and principle, and not coercion."

"That is what will guarantee the stability and also the prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, and Taiwan is a part of that network, of principle, inclusion and rules, and it's a privilege to have that relationship," he said.

The Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, introduced by the Trump administration in November 2017, encompasses an area stretching from the U.S. West Coast to Japan, down through Southeast Asia to Australia, and west across another ocean to India.

Carter said he is a strong supporter of traditional U.S. policy that favors "stability and dialogue across the strait, implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act, and a strong, unofficial relationship with Taiwan, including in the military sphere."

At the invitation of Taiwan's government, Carter, who served as U.S. defense chief in the Barack Obama administration from February 2015 to January 2017, is one of the speakers at the Ketagalan Forum: 2018 Asia Pacific Security Dialogue being held Tuesday.

Carter arrived in Taiwan on Monday and is scheduled to leave later Tuesday.

According to Taiwan's Foreign Ministry, the Obama administration announced a US$1.83 billion arms sale package for Taiwan during Carter's time in office.

The package included two frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and other equipment.

The one-day Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue, organized by the Taipei-based Prospect Foundation, brings together scholars and experts from home and abroad to discuss the latest developments on the Korean Peninsula and the Indo-Pacific Strategic environment; China's sharp power and its challenges to the democratic world; and how Taiwan can integrate its New Southbound Policy and the Indo-Pacific Strategy, according to the ministry.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel