Wed, Mar 06, 2002 - Page 3 News List

US arms talks to get new moniker

WHAT'S IN A NAME?The annual arms discussions between Taipei and Washington are set to continue this year -- but under the title of `military affairs talk'


The annual arms talk between Taiwan and the US, though widely reported to have been canceled, will still be held this year in the US but with a different name, according to defense sources.

The arms talk is to now be called a "military affairs talk" between the two countries.

Deputy chief of the general staff Admiral Fei Hung-po (費鴻波) is to lead a military delegation to the US in April to attend the military affairs talk between the two countries.

The delegation will not discuss new arms purchases with the US, but rather will focus on the weaponry that the Bush administration agreed to sell to Taiwan last year.

Diesel-powered submarines and P-3C anti-submarine aircraft are to be the main items that the military delegation is to discuss with US officials.

Last year, the US decided to sell eight diesel-powered submarines and 12 P-3C aircraft to Taiwan.

Taiwan is strongly inclined to buy the eight submarines but the US is having difficulty carrying out its promise to make them available because it no longer produces conventionally powered submarines.

Countries that do continue to build diesel-powered submarines have been unwilling to provide assistance on the sale for fear of angering Beijing.

The US is expected to bring up its newest plans for the construction of the eight submarines during the talks.

Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) held a meeting yesterday with Minister of Foreign Affairs Yugene Chien (簡又新) as well as officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) on the subject.

The meeting was not open to the press.

At the meeting, Tang asked for help from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and MOEA in negotiations with Washington over arms purchase affairs, sources said.

Tang is to attend a private defense conference in the US from March 10 to March 12. The conference, organized by the US-Taiwan Business Council, will feature speeches and presentations on issues related to Taiwan's defense by defense officials from the two countries.

The event might be a warm-up for the military affairs talks between the two countries in April, although Tang had said he would not discuss individual arms purchases during the trip.

Tang did not say, however, that he would not exchange views with the US on arms procurement affairs.

The ministry said that Tang has received a formal invitation and is ready to leave for the conference,where he will deliver a speech on Taiwanese defense policy.

Tang's visit will be the first of its kind by a defense minister to the US since the US switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979.

Former defense minister Wu Shih-wen (伍世文) did make a transit stop in New York late last year as he made a trip to several of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Latin America.

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