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AEGIS-EQUIPPED WARSHIPS SALES TO TAIWAN UNDER CONSIDERATION: PENTAGON

2004-03-06 12:52:49

    Washington, March 5 (CNA) A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said Friday that a newspaper was incorrect when it reported that the Pentagon has agreed to sell warships equipped with the advanced Aegis radar system to Taiwan.

    The Friday Washington Times report also said that it was the first time that the Bush administration had agreed to the sale of such advanced warships to Taiwan.

    Nevertheless, the Pentagon spokesman said that selling warships equipped with the advanced Aegis radar system to Taiwan is "still under consideration" and that the Defense Department has not yet approved such arms sales to Taiwan.

    The spokesman said that even if the Pentagon agrees to sell the warships, the sale would need a joint endorsement by the White House Security Council, and the departments of state and defense.

    The newspaper also reported that such arms sales could be controversial since Aegis-equipped warships are the foundation of U.S. anti-missile systems, which are expected to be deployed next year.

    The report said that because of mainland China's deployment of an increasing number of missiles aimed at Taiwan, the island is anxious to seek anti-missile defense weapons.

    Taiwan's defense authorities have long hoped to buy warships equipped with the advanced Aegis radar system, but mainland China has strongly opposed the sale because of concerns that the sale could neutralize the deterrence of its missiles aimed at Taiwan.

    Beijing also worries that a U.S. sale of such warships to Taiwan could represent a reinforcement of military contacts and cooperation between Taipei and Washington.

(By Jay Chen and P.C. Tang)

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