CHIOU'S U.S. VISIT IRRELEVANT TO ARMS PROCUREMENT PROJECT: ENVOY
Central News Agency
Los Angeles, June 26 (CNA) The top ROC representative to the United States confirmed Sunday that Chiou I-jen, secretary-general of Taiwan's National Security Council, is currently on a visit in the United States.
Nevertheless, David Ta-wei Lee said he doesn't think that Chiou's ongoing U.S. visit has anything to do with issues related to Taiwan's long-stalled arms procurement project.
According to local media reports, Chiou arrived at Los Angeles International Airport Friday evening. He was escorted from the airport by an unidentified American upon his arrival. Since then, no local journalists have been able to trace his whereabouts.
Lee, who came to Los Angeles from Washington, D.C. over the weekend to address a meeting of executives of major Taiwanese expatriate associations in southern California, told Chinese-language media correspondents during a news briefing Sunday that Chiou would have traveled to Washington, D.C. first if he were to discuss the arms procurement project during his current visit. "Chiou would also have contacted me if the main purpose of his visit were to tackle the arms procurement project as some media reports speculated," Lee said.
The United States agreed to sell Taiwan a robust package of weapons in 2001. While Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party administration has come up with a special budget proposal for the procurement package, its opposition-controlled Legislative Yuan has so far not approved the bill.
Lee said the ROC government's stance on arms procurement has been very consistent. In his view, Lee said, the pending procurement project forms an extremely important part of Taiwan-U.S. military cooperation. "It is my hope that our legislature can pass the budget bill for the procurement project as soon as possible," Lee said.
The NT$480 billion arms procurement package includes eight diesel-electric submarines, six Patriot PAC III anti-missile batteries and a squadron of 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft.
(By Lu-sheng Chu and Sofia Wu)
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