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Taiwanese Americans urge U.S. to 'unfreeze' Taiwan arms sales

ROC Central News Agency

Washington, Aug. 5 (CNA) The leaders of 19 Taiwanese-American groups have jointly written to U.S. President George W. Bush urging him to "unfreeze" the US$11 billion worth of arms sales to Taiwan that reportedly have been held up by the Bush administration.

In the letter dated Aug. 1 that was delivered to Bush ahead of his departure for Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games, the leaders said the "real and grave threat" posed by China's military deployment targeting Taiwan "requires that Taiwan possesses a credible national defense."

They asked Bush not to forget Taiwan, a "beacon of democracy" to which he pledged "whatever it took" to help it defend itself in 2001.

They recalled that in his second inaugural address, Bush told his nation that "the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."

"The success of liberty is not to be found in China where you are visiting. Rather it has been achieved in Taiwan across that narrow strait," they noted.

There have been reports that the Bush administration is holding back on congressional notifications for the pending arms sales to Taiwan so as not to upset relations with China ahead of the Olympic Games.

The list of military hardware reportedly being held up includes anti-tank missiles, Apache helicopters, Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries, diesel-powered submarines, P3C anti-submarine aircraft and sea-launched Harpoon missiles.

Taiwan fears that if the notifications are not sent a month before the U.S. Congress adjourns in September, approval of the sales will be pushed to 2009 and a new U.S. administration.

Responding to speculation surrounding the delay in processing the sales, the U.S. Department of State reiterated last month that Washington has not changed its policy on arms sales to Taiwan.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said July 18 that the administration "faithfully implements the Taiwan Relations Act" and that there is an "internal interagency process" for the U.S. government to consider all military exports, including sales to Taiwan.

"When the interagency process achieves a final decision for specific arms sales, we will notify Congress," he said. (By Jorge Liu and Y.F. Low)

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