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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Taiwan arms sales still under consideration: U.S. official

ROC Central News Agency

08/10/01 14:42:32

By Chiehyu Lin and Y.F. Low

Jacksonville, Florida., Sept. 30 (CNA) A U.S. State Department official repeated Tuesday that pending weapons sales to Taiwan are still being screened under an internal review process in the executive branch, as a delay in the sales is raising deep concern in Taiwan.

The administration will notify Congress when the interagency process reaches a final decision, said John Norris, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

Norris said he would not pay too much attention to when the notification is issued, because the United States maintains close economic and trade relations and civil exchanges with Taiwan.

In addition, there is the Taiwan Relations Act that governs security issues concerning Taiwan, he said.

Norris made the remarks when asked about the matter by Taiwanese media on the sidelines of the 7th U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference held in Jacksonville, Florida.

Taiwan was excluded from the list when the State Department notified Congress of its approval of six arms deals with France, Turkey, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Sept. 26 -- the date when Congress was scheduled to adjourn.

The adjournment has been postponed for a week due to a deadlock over a US$700 billion bailout package for Wall Street amid the collapse of venerable financial institutions.

The pending arms deals to Taiwan cover anti-tank missiles, Apache helicopters, Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries, diesel-electric submarines, P3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft, ship-launched Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Black Eagle helicopters.

Taiwan fears that if the deals are not finalized by the end of the year, approval of the sales will be pushed to 2009 and a new U.S. administration.

During his address to the U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, David Sedney, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, said the internal review process for the arms sales was far more complicated than imagined and that he did not know if and when notification would be given.

Sedney said, however, that the U.S. government maintains its firm commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act, under which the United States makes available items necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient defense.

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