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US approves new $360 million arms sale to Taiwan for drones, related equipment

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Tuesday approved a new $360 million weapons sale to Taiwan, sending the island hundreds of armed drones, missile equipment and related support material, the State Department said in a statement that is sure to draw condemnation from China.

The announcement was not unexpected but it comes at a time of high tension between Washington and Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to consolidate by force if necessary.

The sale includes 291 Altius-600M systems, which are unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, with warheads. It also includes 720 Switchblade drones known as “extended-range loitering munitions,” the State Department said.

It said the sale “serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability.” It will “help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region,” the department said.

Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te thanked the U.S. for approving the latest arms sale to Taiwan during a press conference Wednesday in Taipei. He said such authorizations help to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

“In the future, we will continue to strengthen Taiwan’s national defense strength, whether through … military purchases or our own efforts,” he said.

The U.S. statement claimed that the latest weapons transfer would not affect the military balance in the region. The announcement was not unusual, although the U.S. and China have in recent months sought to smooth tense relations.

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Associated Press writer Simina Mistreanu in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.

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