News Briefs – April 3, 2019

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Taiwan protests China jets crossing center of Taiwan Strait

Taiwan says its planes warned off Chinese military aircraft that crossed the center line in the Taiwan Strait, calling China’s move a provocation seeking to alter the status quo in the waterway dividing the island from mainland China.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said a pair of Chinese J-11 jet fighters crossed the line around 11 a.m. March 31 and entered the island’s southwestern airspace. It said Taiwan scrambled jets to warn off the Chinese planes, which came within about 115 miles of the island itself.
The ministry said in a tweet that the Chinese planes “violated the long-held tacit agreement by crossing the median line” of the strait.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told reporters that such acts sought to alter the status quo and threatened regional security and stability. AP
 

NATO chief plays down rows as allies mark 70th anniversary

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is playing down differences among member countries as the military alliance marks its 70th anniversary in Washington this week.
Stoltenberg concedes there are spats over trade, climate change and the Iran nuclear deal but he insists the 29 allies are united on the need to defend each other, particularly faced with an assertive Russia.
He said April 1 that “the strength of NATO is that despite these differences, we have always been able to unite around our core tasks. That is, to protect and defend each other.”
Stoltenberg met April 2 with U.S. President Donald Trump and will address Congress before foreign ministers on April 4 mark the anniversary of the signing of NATO’s founding Washington Treaty. AP
 

Finns say Portuguese aircraft violated its airspace

Finland’s defense ministry says a Portuguese surveillance aircraft is suspected of having violated the Nordic country’s airspace.
Spokeswoman Niina Hyrsky says the aircraft made the alleged airspace violation on April 1 at 6 a.m. southwest of the capital Helsinki.
Hyrsky declined April 2 to comment further or give more details but said the matter is being investigated by the Finnish Border Guard.
Portuguese Air Force spokesman Lt.-Col. Manuel da Costa told the Associated Press he was not aware of the incident but would look into the matter.
Portugal is a member of NATO, but Finland is not. AP