Exclusive: White House advances drone and missile sales to Taiwan – sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with more sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, telling Congress on Tuesday that it will seek to sell Taipei MQ-9 drones and a coastal defensive missile system, sources familiar with the situation said.

The possible sales follow three other notifications first reported by Reuters on Monday that drew China’s ire as the United States prepares for its Nov. 3 election.

One of the eight sources said that in total the sales were valued at around $5 billion. Very often figures for U.S. foreign military sales include costs for training, spares and fees making the values difficult to pinpoint.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

The pre-notification to Congress for the General Atomics-made MQ-9 drones is the first after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Tuesday’s other congressional pre-notification was for land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing Co BA.N, to serve as coastal defense cruise missiles. One of the sources said the approximately 100 cruise missiles that were notified to Capitol Hill would have a cost of about $2 billion.

Representatives for the U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Taiwan government source acknowledged that “Taiwan has five weapon systems that are moving through the process.”

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

A general view of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Leaders of the committees were notified that the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees foreign military sales, said the sources, who are familiar with the situation but declined to be identified.

Reuters reported on Monday that informal notifications had already been sent to Congress for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

When asked about Tuesday’s tranche of congressional notifications the Chinese Embassy in Washington referred to an overnight statement from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Zhao said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan severely damaged China’s sovereignty and security interests. He urged Washington to clearly recognize the harm they caused and immediately cancel them, adding: “China will make a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops.”

China considers Taiwan a wayward province that it has vowed

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Exclusive: White House advances drone and missile sales to Taiwan

By Mike Stone, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with more sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, telling Congress on Tuesday that it will seek to sell Taipei MQ-9 drones and a coastal defensive missile system, sources familiar with the situation said.

The possible sales follow three other notifications first reported by Reuters on Monday that drew China’s ire as the United States prepares for its Nov. 3 election.

One of the eight sources said that in total the sales were valued at around $5 billion. Very often figures for U.S. foreign military sales include costs for training, spares and fees making the values difficult to pinpoint.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

The pre-notification to Congress for the General Atomics-made MQ-9 drones is the first after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Tuesday’s other congressional pre-notification was for land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing Co, to serve as coastal defense cruise missiles. One of the sources said the approximately 100 cruise missiles that were notified to Capitol Hill would have a cost of about $2 billion.

Representatives for the U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Taiwan government source acknowledged that “Taiwan has five weapon systems that are moving through the process.”

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

Leaders of the committees were notified that the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees foreign military sales, said the sources, who are familiar with the situation but declined to be identified.

Reuters reported on Monday that informal notifications had already been sent to Congress for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin Corp called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

When asked about Tuesday’s tranche of congressional notifications the Chinese Embassy in Washington referred to an overnight statement from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Zhao said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan severely damaged China’s sovereignty and security interests. He urged Washington to clearly recognize the harm they caused and immediately cancel them, adding: “China will make a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops.”

China considers Taiwan a wayward province that it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary, but Washington considers it

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House Suburban Caucus advances congressional pandemic response

There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the everyday lives of many Americans. People have lost jobs, families have lost school and daycare options, and cities are grappling with health and safety protocols and an impacted economy. As our world starkly changes around us, our response to the challenges we face must evolve as well.

To help shape our nation’s response, today the House Suburban Caucus is endorsing a legislative agenda designed to address many common issues facing our constituents. The pandemic has forced us to reevaluate work-life balance and adapt to new realities, and we believe it is our responsibility to step up and offer solutions. The legislation we are endorsing targets issues that suburban families are grappling with, including health care, education and childcare.

To avoid possible exposure to the coronavirus, many have made the choice to stay away from doctors’ offices for all but the most serious concerns, an understandable fear that has unfortunately led to otherwise avoidable health complications. Congress has acted to improve telehealth options, and the Suburban Caucus is endorsing legislation that would expand and make permanent telehealth services to ensure people have access to the care they need, including mental health services. Last month, Rep. Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerDCCC reserves new ad buys in competitive districts, adds new members to ‘Red to Blue’ program Hispanic Caucus campaign arm endorses slate of non-Hispanic candidates The Hill’s Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war MORE, chair of the House Suburban Caucus, introduced a telehealth package made up of nine separate pieces of legislation written by Republican members committed to prioritizing health care access and affordability as part of our promise to build a better health care system for Americans.

The legislation would make telehealth more affordable for those on high-deductible health plans, expand telehealth for veterans, address restrictions that deter health care providers from providing telehealth services, and permanently waive the originating site and geographical restrictions affecting our seniors on Medicare, among other provisions. Telehealth is a new frontier of medicine that will give families and patients the ability to choose how to get health care on their own terms, not terms dictated by bureaucratic restrictions. The Suburban Caucus is also proud to champion legislation that would provide health insurance premium assistance to workers who are unemployed. No one should lose their insurance or be forced to pay increased premiums because they lost their jobs during a pandemic. Suburban Republicans are committed to crafting and implementing initiatives that help Americans struggling with health care affordability so that everyone has the coverage they need.

Our educational system has also been shaken by the spread of the virus, and many schools have already announced they will be moving to online or hybrid learning until a later date. Parents are concerned about the efficacy of remote learning, the potential effects of too much screen time, the challenge of balancing work schedules while

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