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EU's Ashton avoids questions on US-China row

31 January 2010, 15:37 CET
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(LONDON) - The European Union's foreign policy supremo Catherine Ashton declined to be drawn on a row between China and the United States over US arms sales to Taiwan Sunday.

Ashton told Sky News television she was "not getting involved in what the United States chooses to do with Taiwan or not" and "not getting involved in discussions about supporting what China says or does not say".

The Pentagon Friday approved the sale of Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and other weaponry worth 6.4 billion dollars (4.6 billion euros) to Taiwan, prompting a raft of reprisals from China.

Beijing has warned of "severe harm" to relations and says it will suspend military and security contacts with Washington and impose sanctions on US firms involved in the deal.

Ashton, a Briton who faced criticism on her appointment in November that she lacks the experience for the senior EU role, was also pressed in the interview on whether she should have a position on the situation.

"The job of diplomacy is to have a position but the job of diplomacy is also to work out the European Union, where its relationships are, what it should do for the future," she responded.

"As we begin this process, the very beginning of the work of the next few years to bring this all together, it is very important that working with the member states we develop our own policies and strategies."

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