Sat, Oct 04, 2008 - Page 1 News List

State Department approves arms sales

OPTIMISM While State and the Congress still have to work out the details, sources said both sides were upbeat that an official sales notification would come within days

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

He and others felt that the timing reflects the administration’s desire to get the process going before Congress adjourns.

HOLD UP

While the adjournment date was set for Friday last week, it has been held up by the global financial crisis and congressional attempts to approve a US$700 billion proposed bailout to deal with the crisis. In the wake of the House’s rejection of the bailout on Monday, the session has been extended long enough for the notification process to begin.

In addition, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid indicated on Thursday a possible lame-duck session in the middle of next month after the presidential elections, which would give Congress more time to consider the arms sales to Taiwan if needed.

Observers in Washington say they began to get hints that the notifications were coming early last week, when the administration was in the process of giving Congress 10 last-minute notifications of arms sales to several foreign countries.

WORD SPREADS

But word began to spread on Tuesday night, toward the end of a three-day meeting of Taiwanese and US defense officials at the annual defense conference of the US-Taiwan Business Council in Amelia Island, Florida.

It is not clear whether that meeting hastened the decision. The council is chaired by Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defense secretary who was instrumental in the Bush administration’s April 2001 decision to sell Taiwan the arms packages involved in Thursday’s meeting on Capitol Hill.

CLOUT

Wolfowitz continues to maintain some clout with administration officials and was “very active in talking with a number of people around town in the past few months,” a source close to Wolfowitz said.

Also See: EDITORIAL: The end of the freeze

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