Tue, Jul 27, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Chen to lead media delegation on tour of submarine base

HARD SELL President Chen Shui-bian wants the media to get to know the military better, but their tour apparently has little to do with the arms bill

STAFF WRITER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will inspect a navy exercise and lead a media inspection of submarine operations on Thursday at the Tsoying base in Kaohsiung, Presidential Office Spokesman Chen Wen-tsung (陳文宗) said yesterday.

"The Presidential Office and the Ministry of National Defense hope that the military exercises will help the media better understand the military," Chen Wen-tsung said. "The visit to the submarines has nothing to do with future government purchases of diesel submarines from the United States."

"President Chen will lead reporters into the interior of the submarines," Chen Wen-tsung said.

military exercises

The navy's exercise is a part of the annual Han Kuang military exercises which have been held since 1985.

Last Wednesday the air force landed two Mirage 2000-5 jet fighters on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway in southern Tainan County, which were refueled, armed, then returned to the skies within 40 minutes.

The army also held an amphibious war game involving 5,000 military personnel in Pingtung County.

The Presidential Office arranged for the media to inspect not only military facilities but also economic and cultural infrastructure in the south of the country.

"In addition to the submarines, the president will visit major biochemical and high-tech companies at the Tainan Science Park. Then, the president will exchange points of view with the media on general issues," Chen Wen-tsung said.

frigates

According to the ministry, the navy's exercise on Thursday will involve a number of naval vessels, and some reporters will be invited to inspect the Lafayette-class frigates.

Media outlets claimed that the purpose of Chen Shui-bian's visit to the base was to promote the importance of purchasing new submarines, which the government is negotiating with the US government.

"This time, we will invite reporters to personally witness the operation of the submarines in military maneuvers, simulating underwater engagement with the enemy," a Presidential Office official said.

Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) and Chief of the General Staff Admiral Li Tien-yu (李天羽) will accompany the president during the inspection.

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