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2004-03-15 21:48:12

    Taipei, March 15 (CNA) The National Security Bureau (NSB), the nation's top intelligence agency, briefed the opposition "pan-blue alliance's" presidential and vice presidential candidates Monday on Taiwan's current national security situation.

    Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan -- the sole challenger to President Chen Shui-bian's re-election bid -- and his running mate People First Party Chairman James Soong arrived at the NSB early in the morning in the company of their chief campaign manager Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng and several lawmakers from their parties.

    NSB Deputy Director Huang Lei told a news conference held after the closed-door national security briefing that all presidential and vice presidential candidates should support three principles -- the content of the briefing should be kept secret; the briefing should not be used for political purposes; and refraining from entangling intelligence units into electioneering.

    Huang also assured the nation that the NSB will uphold its cardinal work ethics of political neutrality and impartiality. "None of the NSB staff will meddle with or get involved or participate in any campaign activities. Throughout the election process, the NSB will adhere to its underlying working principles and make all-out efforts to safeguard national security," Huang stressed.

    For his part, Lien told reporters before attending the special election briefing that he opposed President Chen's insistence on holding the presidential vote on the same day as Taiwan's first islandwide referendum. The referendum deals with defense policy and relations with Taiwan's biggest security threat -- mainland China. "This is unprecedented. No matter how you do it, this whole election process will be more complicated. Will this cause social instability or election disputes? We don't dare to speculate," Lien said.

    He added what he most wants to know during the NSB security briefing is whether the government has prepared comprehensive measures to cope with possible uncertainties or contingencies on the election day.

(BY Sofia Wu)


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