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TAIWAN SEEKING U.S. LOANS TO BUY U.S. ARMS

2004-02-27 20:05:03

    Taipei, Feb. 27 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense has approached the United States to obtain financial assistance to buy weapons from America, but so far no progress has been made, Minister of National Defense Tang Yiau-min said Friday.

    Answering questions from lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan, Tang said his ministry, with the approval of the Executive Yuan, has been trying to get U.S. loans since last year but since a special budget for arms purchases from the United States has not yet been approved by the Legislative Yuan, the ministry has no idea how much money it will need, and negotiations with the United States are still at the preliminary stage.

    As a U.S. ally of the same importance as NATO members, Taiwan is qualified to borrow money from the United States to finance its U.S. arm purchases, a vice minister of national defense from Taiwan has approached his U.S. contacts about this, but has gotten nowhere thus far, according to Tang.

    The idea was brought up last year by Legislator Lin Nan-sheng, a lawmaker from the opposition Kuomintang. He claimed that buying U.S. arms with U.S. loans will bring Taiwan closer to the United States, which would not support an attack by Beijing against Taiwan while the island owes money to the United States. U.S. President George W, Bush approved the sale of a package of

weapons systems to Taiwan in 2000, but the island has had problems

coming up with the money at one time. The Ministry of National

Defense is seeking a budget of NT$500 billion (US$14.92 billion)

next year as part of the payment.

(By Maubo Chang)

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