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Kremlin strongly backs Beijing as Pelosi’s Taiwan trip looms

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin on Tuesday strongly warned the United States against provoking China with a possible trip to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying it will raise tensions to a new dangerous level.

Pelosi left Malaysia on Tuesday and was expected to visit Taiwan, escalating tensions with Beijing, which claims the self-ruled island as its own territory. It was unclear where she was headed from Malaysia, but local media in Taiwan reported that she would arrive on Tuesday night, becoming the highest-ranking elected U.S. official to visit in more than 25 years.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that such a visit would be “extremely provocative,” adding that it would “exacerbate the situation in the region and fuel tensions.”

Speaking in a call with reporters, Peskov reaffirmed Russia’s “absolute solidarity” with China, noting that the issue of Taiwan is very sensitive for Beijing.

“Instead of dealing with this sensitivity with respect, the U.S. has regrettably chosen the path of confrontation,” he added. “It will bring no good, we can only express regret.”

Taiwan and China split in 1949 following a civil war that ended with a communist victory on the mainland. They have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars of trade and investment. Both sides say they are one country but disagree over which government is entitled to national leadership.

Peskov’s comments reflected close ties between Moscow and Beijing, which have grown stronger since Russia sent its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. China has pointedly refused to criticize Russia’s action, blaming the U.S. and NATO for provoking Moscow, and has blasted punishing sanctions imposed on Moscow.

Russia and China have held a series of joint war games in recent years, including naval drills and patrols by long-range bombers over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. Last year, Russian troops for the first time deployed to Chinese territory for joint maneuvers.

Even though Moscow and Beijing in the past rejected the possibility of forging a military alliance, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that such a prospect can’t be ruled out. He also has noted that Russia has been sharing highly sensitive military technologies with China that helped significantly bolster its defense capability.

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
Associated Press

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