Sat, Oct 28, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Young reiterated US position, says State Department

ARMS As Washington put the AIT director's remarks into perspective, protesters in Taipei yesterday said that the US should buy some Taiwanese bananas

AGENCIES , WASHINGTON AND TAIPEI

Protesters from the Anti-Arms Procurement Alliance perform a skit in front of the American Institute in Taiwan's (AIT) office in Taipei yesterday. Protesters demanded that AIT Director Stephen Young apologize for remarks he made on Thursday about the legislature's handling of the long-delayed arms procurement budget.

PHOTO: CNA

The latest call by an American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) official urging Taiwan to pass the budget for its arms procurement from the US is only a reiteration of Washington's long-standing position, a US State Department official said on Thursday.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack made the comment during a daily press briefing when asked if the call by AIT Director Stephen Young indicated any new policy on the US side.

"I can't tell you the particular reason for the timing of Mr Young's remarks, only that it is, as you noted, a reiteration of what we have urged those authorities to do over a period of time," McCormack said.

On Thursday, Young called for the Legislative Yuan to pass the long-stalled budget for an arms procurement package during its current session.

The package covers diesel-powered submarines, maritime patrol aircraft and Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile batteries.

Young, who recently returned from the US, said that the message from Washington was that "Taiwan needs to pass the robust defense budget in this fall's legislative session."

"Taiwan requires leadership from all sides. Both the government and the opposition. But Taiwan cannot continue to allow critical security issues to be held hostage as domestic concerns," Young said.

Last month, a Pentagon official in charge of arms sales to Taiwan told reporters that the Legislative Yuan's attitude toward the arms procurement budget this autumn would be decisive to the future development of US-Taiwan relations.

The official said that, based on its understanding of the political situation in Taiwan, the US has waited patiently for the past three years for Taiwan to sort out the differences between the ruling and opposition parties over the arms package.

However, the US cannot wait forever, the official said.

Meanwhile, in Taipei, scores of members of the Anti-Arms Procurement Alliance demonstrated outside the AIT's offices yesterday.

Protesters derided what they claimed were "inappropriate" remarks made by Young.

"Do not buy weapons, buy bananas. Yang Su-di(楊甦棣) get out of Taiwan," shouted the protesters, calling Young by his Chinese name.

The protesters wanted to deliver a letter of protest to AIT, but no AIT official showed up to accept it. Some scuffles with police were reported.

Some of the protesters held bananas, of which Taiwan currently has a surplus, urging the US to buy the fruit.

Kuo Chung-yi (郭中一), convener of the alliance, said the group would stage a protest every day until Young apologizes.

Several demonstrators were carried away by police in the brief protest. There were no arrests.

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Young praised, vilified by parties

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