NEW KMT CHAIRMAN URGED TO PUSH FOR QUICK PASSAGE OF ARMS PACKAGE
ROC Central News Agency
Washington, Aug. 5 (CNA) The Taiwan Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives recently sent a letter to opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman-elect Ma Ying-jeou, urging him to work for quick passage of a special arms procurement package in the Legislative Yuan.
The letter, which was jointly signed by three co-chairs of the caucus, including Reps. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), was sent to Ma Aug. 1.
Besides congratulating Ma on his July 16 election as the new chairman of the KMT, the representatives said in the letter that they want to reassure the new KMT head that the United States is fully committed to the security, prosperity and future of the people of Taiwan. "All of us in the Congressional Taiwan Caucus are long-time friends and supporters of Taiwan and have closely followed Taiwan's remarkable path towards a flourishing multi-party democracy that respects human rights and the rule of law," they said in the letter.
They also said that they now look to Ma, in the tradition of past KMT chairman, to join them in enhancing the long-standing partnership and economic, cultural and security cooperation between Taiwan and the United States. "In particular, we urge you, as the new chairman of the Kuomintang, to lead efforts in Taipei to ensure that the Legislative Yuan quickly passes a special arms procurement package or increases its annual defense spending, " the representatives further said, adding that "we believe as you do that cooperation between Taipei and Washington is paramount to Taiwan's security and is in the mutual interest of both nations."
The co-chairs also said that they would like to invite Ma to visit Washington, D.C. in September to address members of the caucus and engage in a dialogue relating to Taiwan-U.S. relations. "Given the myriad of complex and difficult issues facing the two countries in the coming years, we believe your visit will be a positive step towards enhancing this historic partnership, " they continued.
Earlier this year, a similar letter signed jointly by 33 members of the caucus was sent to KMT Chairman Lien Chan, who will step down Aug. 18, calling for him to help stop the oppositions' boycott against the passage of the arms procurement package in the legislature as soon as possible.
The arms procurement package put forward by the Ministry of National Defense has been stalled for months in the Legislative Yuan due to opposition by lawmakers of the KMT and its ally, the People First Party.
According to the ministry, the items on the procurement list include eight diesel-powered submarines, six Patriot PAC-III anti-missile batteries and 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft.
(By C.C. Lin and P.C.Tang)
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