Mon, Oct 04, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Defense official departs for US arms conference

AFP , TAIPEI

Deputy Defense Minister General Houh Shoou-yeh (霍守業) has left for the US to attend a defense industry meeting, a trip likely to anger rival Beijing which has called on Washington to halt military exchanges with the island.

The defense ministry confirmed Houh's departure over the weekend but tried to play down the significance of the meeting he will attend. "It is simply a meeting hosted by a civil organization," said ministry spokesman Huang Suey-sheng (黃穗生).

Houh will deliver a keynote speech at the opening of the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona on Sunday, Huang said.

Taiwan's government is to seek parliament's approval for a controversial US$18 billion special defense budget to buy six US-made Pac-3 anti-missile systems, eight conventional submarines and a fleet of submarine-hunting P-3C aircraft, over a 15-year period beginning next year.

Richard Lawless, a deputy undersecretary at the US Defense Department, will also speak at the conference, according to the US-Taiwan Business Council.

This is the third in a series of conferences addressing the future of US defense cooperation with Taiwan and the defense procurement process.

It will provide a progress report on Taiwan's future defense needs and review its communications and command systems, submarine and missile defense programs, the council said.

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