TEHRAN (FNA)- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has extended an invitation to members of Congress to join her on a planned trip to Taiwan, according to a House aide.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was invited to join the speaker to visit Taipei but is unable to attend because of a previous commitment, his spokesperson Leslie Shedd confirmed to The Hill.
Shedd added that the congressman was disappointed not to be able to join the trip.
“He also believes the speaker or any other American official should be able to visit Taiwan if they would like to,” Shedd continued.
NBC News was first to report Wednesday that the speaker was extending invitations to members of Congress to join her, including Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Information about travel for the speaker and members of Congress is often tightly held over security concerns. Pelosi’s office has not officially confirmed she is traveling to Taiwan, though President Joe Biden spoke about the reported trip recently.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has also addressed the potential travel, warning such a visit from the speaker would “challenge China’s red line, it will be met with resolute countermeasures".
The US says "it is committed to Taiwan’s self defense in the face of threats from Beijing to subsume the self-governing island", which American intelligence officials "warn is happening through diplomatic and economic coercion but could rise to a military invasion within the next decade".
McCaul had earlier told The Hill that he supports members traveling to Taiwan, but cited warnings from senior US officials like General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that such a visit “could be potentially dangerous move".
“I would hate to see any blowback come out after, or as she goes to Taiwan,” McCaul added.
The US Defense Department has started developing contingency plans to protect Pelosi if she decides to accept Taipei’s invitation to visit Taiwan, The AP reported citing anonymous US officials.
According to the officials, the US military is considering increasing "movements of forces and assets in the Indo-Pacific region".
The unnamed officials suggested that jets, ships, and surveillance units will likely be employed in assuring the speaker’s safety if she travels to the island, without offering further details.
Asked about the alleged preparations, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, stated that the Pentagon is ready to help Pelosi if needed, but noted that any talk of details is premature.
"If there's a decision made that Speaker Pelosi or anyone else is going to travel and they asked for military support, we will do what is necessary to ensure a safe conduct of their visit. And I'll just leave it at that," Milley continued.
The anonymous sources told The AP that the preparations for a potential Pelosi trip would require the military to create "buffer zones" around the speaker and the plane she will be using to reach the island. This can reportedly be achieved with the military force already present in the region as the US has been actively pumping it with assets of late.
The same sources told the news agency that Washington does not truly expect China to take any direct action against the speaker despite its threats of a strong response. However, the White House does not reportedly rule out Beijing scrambling jets to fly in the vicinity of Taiwanese airspace as Pelosi's plane approaches.