Sat, Jul 17, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Arms sale talks can wait: speaker

STORMY TALKS The legislature's top priority during the August sittings must be to deal with the damage from Mindulle and not the US arms sale, Wang says

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislature should not discuss the NT$610 billion (US$18.03 billion) arms deal in the interim legislative sittings next month, as negotiations are ongoing. The priority of the legislature must focus on the damage caused by Tropical Storm Mindulle, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday.

Vice Minister of National Defense Tsai Ming-hsien (蔡明憲) and the ministry's general affairs office director, Vice Admiral Lei Kuang-shu (雷光墅), met with Wang yesterday to talk about his meeting with the nation's troops next Tuesday to reward them for helping with disaster relief. They also talked about the US arms deal.

Tsai told the media after the meeting that the US would not offer a new quote on the submarines, but would offer "supplemental information" soon. In response, Wang told the media that it did not matter whether or not the US gives Taiwan a new quote on the costs, as the US agreed to highlight costs in the supplemental information. He also noted there is much room for negotiation.

Wang also said that Tsai did not request that the legislature review the deal in the interim sitting.

"I have proposed three principles regarding the arms deal. First, the submarines' price has to meet the legislature's expectations," Wang said.

"Second, the public has voiced strong opposition to the deal after [Tropical Storm] Mindulle devastated the country. Third, although the legislature is preparing to hold interim sittings in August, the arms deal has to be reviewed by the relevant commit-tee," he added.

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