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Taiwan's president hopes to deepen US security exchanges

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan's president told visiting ex-U.S. national security adviser John Bolton on Monday that her country is willing to deepen cooperation with the U.S. and "other like-minded partners” to safeguard peace, as the self-governed island faces increasing military threats from China.

President Tsai Ing-wen also expressed hopes to Bolton, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024, for more military and security exchanges and economic cooperation between the two sides, her office said in a statement.

Bolton began his weeklong visit to Taiwan last Wednesday and has called for deeper interaction between the two sides' national security teams. His visit reflects the importance of the democratic island as an issue in the U.S. presidential election amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Later Monday, Tsai said at a separate event that China's military exercises have affected the stability and peace of the Indo-Pacific region.

“But we will stay calm and firmly safeguard peace across the Taiwan Strait,” she said.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 following a civil war that ended with the Communist Party in control of the mainland. The island has never been part of the People’s Republic of China, but Beijing says it must unite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

The U.S. remains Taiwan’s closest military and political ally despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties between them. U.S. law requires Washington to treat all threats to the island as matters of “grave concern,” though it remains ambiguous over whether American forces would be dispatched to help defend it.

Last Friday, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said China’s military flew 38 fighter jets and other warplanes near Taiwan. That was the most since a large military exercise in which it simulated sealing off Taiwan in response to an April 5 meeting between Tsai and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. China opposes any meetings between officials of Taiwan and other governments.