• Kyodo

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Two senior U.S. Defense and State Department officials assured a group of Japanese lawmakers Friday that President George W. Bush has not changed Washington’s long-standing policy of ambiguity over Chinese attacks on Taiwan.

Seiji Maehara, a Democratic Party of Japan member in the House of Representatives, said Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz clarified the policy in separate meetings with a group of Japanese legislators concerned with security affairs.

“The two U.S. officials said what has changed is China — particularly its military buildup and increased deployment of missiles,” Maehara said.

In late April, Bush broke with the longstanding ambiguity shown by previous U.S. presidents and made an apparently unequivocal commitment to defending Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. Bush, however, soon watered down the remarks, leaving political observers puzzled about his intent.

Both Armitage and Wolfowitz emphasized that the so-called ambiguity policy on Taiwan defense remains intact, Maehara said.

The Japanese lawmakers, from ruling and opposition parties, were in Washington on the final leg of a 10-day tour of the United States to exchange views with U.S. officials on security issues. The delegation is led by former Defense Agency chief Fumio Kyuma.

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