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Delay in U.S. arms sale to Taiwan stirs concerns

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Reuters reported last week that the top US military commander in the Pacific, Adm. Timothy Keating, confirmed the current freeze on major arms sales to the island. He noted that improved cross-strait relations had sharply reduced the potential for conflict.

But other current and former US officials appeared to contradict Keating's remarks. Asked whether US policy on arms sales to Taiwan had changed, a State Department spokesman said, "The short answer is no," according to the transcript of a US State Department daily press briefing. The spokesman continued:

Speaking in Taipei on Wednesday, Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy defense secretary in the Bush administration and current chairman of the board of the US-Taiwan Business Council, said that he thought President Bush was committed to selling arms to Taiwan and would do so before he left office, according to the Associated Press.

But The Wall Street Journal reported that the US could be delaying the sales until after the Olympic Games.

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