Taiwan's Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (???) confirmed on Tuesday a media report that a group of Taiwanese marines have been sent to undergo one-month training in Guam as part of a Taiwan-U.S. defense cooperation and exchange program.
Chiu said the program is one of a number of "long-standing" bilateral exchange projects between Taipei and Washington, without elaborating.
Chiu made the comments on the sideline of a Legislative hearing when asked by reporters to comment on a Chinese-language Apple Daily report that made public the program.
According to the Apple Daily, Taiwan's Marine Corps has recently sent a platoon of 40 marines for a month-long amphibious landing training at the U.S. military base in Guam to enhance their combat capabilities.
Both countries' marines will also undergo training for joint operations to learn the latest tactics from the U.S. Marine Corps, it added.
Chiu's comments came after President Tsai Ing-wen (???) disclosed last Thursday for the first time the presence of American troops in Taiwan to help the nation counter threats from the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Tsai told CNN that Taiwan had "a wide range of cooperation with the U.S. aiming at increasing our defense capability," but she did not specify how many American service members were sent to Taiwan, saying only that the number was "not as many as people thought."
International media had reported last year that the U.S. had been rotating a small number of U.S. Marines and Special Operations Forces on the island to train the Taiwanese military, amid rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
Back then, Chiu denied that U.S. troops had been deployed to Taiwan, describing U.S. military personnel as being in Taiwan for military training "exchanges" with their Taiwanese counterparts.
China later responded by saying that it had long been aware that U.S. military trainers have regularly visited Taiwan but accused Tsai of provocation by making such visits public.
Asked to comment, Chiu reiterated his stance on Tuesday that these American military trainers and consultants are in Taiwan only for short terms and are not being posted nor deployed in the country.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel