Fri, Jun 25, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Defense minister says price of arms package not final

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) said yesterday that the price of the arms package to be purchased from the US could be further negotiated, out of the consideration that the previously estimated price was too high, legislators said.

Lee Jye yesterday arranged private visits to a few legislators in the south, including independent Legislator Su Yin-kuei (蘇盈貴), Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) to seek their support on the controversial arms purchase deal with the US.

"The minister said that the public consensus was that the price was too high. He offered a solution saying the budget could still be passed with the budget for submarine purchases left blank, for further negotiation with the US," Su said.

"The minister also proposed enabling China Shipbuilding Corp (中船) to participate in at least 30 percent of the submarine-building exercise with the help of the Ministry of Economic Affairs," Su said.

Huang also said that the minister said the price was still negotiable, although she contradicted Su by stating that the minister said that Taiwan did not have the technical capability to build its own submarines.

"The minister said that he got wind of information that the US is prepared to lower the price, and that the US is likely to sell the AEGIS defense system to Taiwan, although these things still need to be confirmed after Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) returns to Taiwan," Lee said.

Lee said that the minister said that building submarines locally would not be possible.

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