Taiwan military sets up WikiLeaks group

TAIPEI, Wednesday 1 December 2010 (AFP) - Taiwan said Wednesday it has set up a team to reduce possible damage to its military over the expected release by WikiLeaks of documents on the island's dealings with its major arms supplier Washington.

"I have ordered Deputy Defence Minister Andrew Yang to lead a special group to verify the cables" once they are released by the whistleblower website, Defence Minister Kao Hua-chu told parliament.

"Not all of them are true," he said, adding that the ministry had been in close contact with the United States over the issue.

WikiLeaks has already said that while visiting Turkey early this year, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates proposed that Ankara lease or buy US-made AH-1W attack helicopters from Taiwan, according to Turkish media.

"I was not aware of this... We would not agree to it even if we had been approached," Kao said while replying to queries raised by legislator Lin Yu-fang.

WikiLeaks says it has obtained 3,456 cables originating from the American Institute in Taiwan, the US's de facto embassy after Washington switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.

It was unclear whether these would be released as part of a series of disclosures of confidential US diplomatic communications that have already left diplomats around the world red-faced.

The documents from AIT include 136 classified as "secret", 1,425 "confidential" and the rest "unclassified", WikiLeaks said in a listing on its website.

The United States remains the leading arms supplier to Taiwan despite a lack of diplomatic ties.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, but Beijing still sees the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

MySinchew 2010.12.01