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TAIWAN'S DEFENSE NEEDS INVESTMENT: U.S. OFFICIALS

2004-06-22 13:16:45

    Washington, June 22 (CNA) Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng, who is currently leading a Legislative Yuan delegation to discuss Taiwan's new arms procurement project in Washington, D.C., said Monday that the U.S. side has passed on a message to the delegation that Taiwan should spend money if it wants to upgrade its defense capability.

    Wang made the comments after he and his delegation met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon and listened to relevant briefings from other U.S. officials the same day.

    The Bush administration had been disappointed about Taiwan's lack of progress concerning its arms procurement deal from the United States last year and therefore decided to invite members of the Defense Committee of the Legislative Yuan to visit the United States at a time when the Legislative Yuan is currently reviewing the nation's special budget for the new arms procurement project.

    According to Wang, Wolfowitz spent about 40 minutes talking with the members of the delegation. It is believed that this may be the first time that a deputy secretary of defense of the Bush administration has received Taiwan's legislators.

    A well-placed source in the U.S. capital also said that prior to listening to briefings by U.S. defense officials regarding the Patriot PAC-III anti-missile system, several of the legislators raised questions, including the high price tag for the U.S. weapons, during their meeting with Wolfowitz.

    The officials also briefed the legislators on issues related to mainland China's military threat to Taiwan.

    Earlier in the day, Wang and other legislators also met with a U.S. State Department official responsible for Taiwan affairs and held an official meeting with a group of U.S. officials headed by Randall G. Scheriver, assistant secretary of state for East Asia, at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Office.

    Wang said after meeting with the U.S. officials that the message he received is that the lack of increase in Taiwan's defense budget and the continual increase in mainland China's defense budget are disadvantageous to the island.

    The legislators are scheduled to listen to more briefings by the U.S. defense officials on several topics, including submarines, communications, computers and intelligence information, at the AIT office Tuesday.

    They will also visit the research department of the U.S. Congress before departing for Texas Wednesday.

(By Jay Chen and P.C.Tang)

Enditem/Li



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