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NO OFFICIAL COMMENT ON PLAN TO DEFEND PO-AI DISTRICT WITH MISSILES

2004-07-07 21:28:49

    Taipei, July 7 (CNA) The Presidential Office declined to comment Wednesday on a media report that the Military Police Command will purchase Avenger missile systems to beef up air defenses in Taipei's Po-ai district -- the Republic of China's political nerve center.

    Presidential Office spokesman Chen Wen-chung said he could not confirm the report out of security concerns.

    As to another media report that the National Security Bureau will spend NT$30 million rebuilding the fences around the president's official residence to better protect President Chen Shui-bian and other members of the first family, Chen Wen-chung said the government has consistently adopted necessary measures to protect the safety of the nation's president and vice president. "For security reasons, we cannot give any details about our security measures," Chen Wen-chung said.

    Since the March 19 shooting of President Chen and Vice President Annette Lu, security measures at the Presidential Office and the official residences have been tightened.

    Chen Wen-chung said if the Military Police Command (MPC) , which is responsible for Po-ai district security, has any new equipment procurement plans or security measures, it is not only to protect the head and deputy head of state but also for the nation's overall security.

    The Po-ai district in downtown Taipei accommodates the Presidential Office, the president's official residence, the Ministry of National Defense and many other government agencies.

    If the MPC truly plans to buy Avenger missile systems, Chen Wen-chung said, the acquisition would be aimed at protecting the safety of the nation's capital as well as all residents in northern Taiwan.

    Meanwhile, Chen Wen-chung denied a media report that Vice President Lu will relocate her official residence. "The report was not factual, " he added. Lu's current residence is located on Jenai Road, not far from the Presidential Office.

    President Chen and Vice President Lu were riding in an open-top jeep in the southern city of Tainan on March 19 when a bullet grazed the president's stomach and another hit Lu's knee. Police have so far failed to track down any suspects or find any solid leads.

(By Sofia Wu)

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