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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Taiwan expects U.S. arms sales to Taiwan to proceed as planned

ROC Central News Agency

Taipei, July 17 (CNA) The Presidential Office reiterated Thursday Taiwan's desire to procure defensive arms from the United States.

Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi said Taiwan is hopeful that the U.S. weapons procurement plans will proceed based on arms procurement budgets approved by the Legislative Yuan last year.

Wang made the statement in response to remarks made by the top U.S. military chief in the Pacific Wednesday that there is "no pressing need" for arms sales to Taiwan.

Timothy Keating, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, noted that "there have been no significant arms sales from the United States to Taiwan in relatively recent times, " following his indirect confirmation during a forum held by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation of Washington's decision to freeze the sales.

Keating made the remarks when asked by a Taiwanese reporter if the U.S. government has frozen its arms sales to Taiwan.

According to Keating, policy-makers in the administration "reconciled Taiwan's military posture, China's current military posture and strategy, which indicates there is no pressing, compelling need for, at the moment, arms sales to Taiwan."

Keating's remarks were interpreted by some political observers in Taipei as an alteration in Washington's policies on arms sales to Taiwan.

An unnamed official at the Presidential Office, however, had different views, suggesting that what Keating said were only his personal opinions and pointing out that the Department of State, which has the final say concerning arms sales to Taiwan, has not made a final decision.

The official added that all past communications between the Ministry of National Defense and the Pentagon on Taiwan's arms procurements from the U.S. have been positive, but when the cases have been referred to the State Department for approval, there have been two different voices.

President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated during interviews with several media outlets recently that Taiwan's policy of acquiring U.S. weapons systems -- including anti-tank missiles, Apache helicopters, Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries, diesel-powered submarines, P3C anti-submarine aircraft and sea-launched Harpoon missiles -- remains unchanged and consistent.

"We were caught in between, as there have been different noises over the procurement plans," Ma said.

Ma stressed the imperative of Taiwan's acquisition of defensive weapons as a vital means to beef up the country's self-defense capability, adding that the military cannot wait any longer.

"The procurement plan will not change even if Taiwan's relations with China continue to improve," Ma went on. (By Deborah Kuo) ENDITEM/J



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