Thu, Mar 07, 2002 - Page 3 News List

US gives Tang visa to attend conference

LANDMARK TRIP The Minister of National Defense leaves Saturday to attend a private defense conference in the US and said he would travel in his official capacity


Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming, left, visits the Legislative Yuan yesterday to answer questions about his US trip next week along with deputy minister for military affairs, Li Chieh, center, and deputy minister for armament affairs, Chen Chao-ming.


Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) yesterday confirmed that he has received a visa to visit the US for a private defense conference next week.

Tang said he would visit the US in his official capacity, making him the first defense minister to make a formal visit to the US since its switch in diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979.

Tang is scheduled to fly to the US on Saturday for the conference, which will be held in Florida from Sunday to Tuesday.

The conference is being organized by the private US-based US-Taiwan Business Council.

Tang plans to deliver a speech at the conference on Taiwan's defense policy and arms procurement procedures.

Defense officials from both Taiwan and the US, as well as major US defense contractors, are expected to attend.

Despite the presence of defense contractors, Tang emphasized that he would not discuss individual arms purchases during the visit.

"I am to attend the conference mainly to let the US government and defense contractors understand Taiwan's defense policy and arms procurement procedures," he said.

"I will emphasize to them the fact that any arms procurement to be made by Taiwan's military has to first be approved by the Legislative Yuan," he said.

Tang made the remarks yesterday at a meeting of the defense committee of the legislature as he answered inquiries from committee members about the trip.

Initially, Tang did not want to confirm that the US government had issued him a visa, but he changed his mind at the urging of lawmakers, particularly those from the KMT.

Tang declined to reveal, however, whether it would be US State Department or Department of Defense officials who would receive him at the airport.

Defending a nation

* The US-Taiwan Business Council is a private group that aims to promote trade and business relations between the two countries.

* High-ranking defense officials from both countries will attend.

* Among topics to be discussed will be Taiwan's defense needs for the 21st century.

Source: Taipei Times

"There is a great difference between the two," said KMT lawmaker Lu Hsiu-yen (盧秀燕).

Meanwhile, yesterday was Tang's first appearance at the defense committee of the legislature after the new military command structure was put into force on March 1.

It was also the first time that the chief of the general-staff appeared at the committee with the minister of defense.

Under the new command structure, the chief of the general-staff is now the minister's chief of staff. Before the reforms, the chief of the general-staff superceded the defense minister in the military's power structure.

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