The nation's top defense official will travel to the US to take part in a conference designed to boost Taiwan's military cooperation with the US sources told the Taipei Times yesterday.
Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (
A source inside the Cabinet confirmed the possibility of Lee attending the conference, but added that "there were still some details that had to be resolved before the minister's schedule is set in stone."
The two-day conference is scheduled to begin on Sept. 18, and will be the fourth in a series addressing the future of US defense cooperation with Taiwan, the defense procurement process and Taiwan's future defense and national security needs.
The event is organized by the US-Taiwan Business Council, a private organization that according to its Web site, "serves as an effective representative in dealing with business, trade, and investment matters, [and] comprises a large network of companies involved in business between Taiwan and the United States."
The council has several prominent congress members on its board, including senators John Rockefeller IV and Conrad Burns.
The last such conference was held last October, and although Lee was invited, he did not attend. Deputy Minister of National Defense Hou Shou-yeh (霍守業) attended in Lee's place, and met with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless, who is widely considered to be the most prominent pro-Taiwan official in the Bush administration.
A US defense source said that the sticking point of a Lee trip to the conference would likely be whether or not the minister was guaranteed a meeting with a senior Bush administration official.
In February 2002, former minister of national defense Tang Yao-ming (
According to information released by the US-Taiwan Business Council, the conference this year will include a keynote address by "speakers from the Ministry of National Defense as well as from the US Department of Defense."
The conference will also hold three sessions designed to address each branch of Taiwan's armed services, and will include discussions on specific themes, including "Taiwan's preparation for a minimal warning invasion scenario," "prospects and concepts for anti-submarine warfare" and "air and missile defense requirements."
The military source also said that Lee's participation at the conference was meant to demonstrate the ministry's support for the NT$480 billion dollar special arms budget, and to give the military an opportunity to address criticism by some in the US that Taiwan was not taking its defense seriously.