Sat, Dec 11, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Chen: arms bill could pass soon

MAJORITY NEEDED Chen told a visiting US congressman that if the pan-green camp wins a majority today, the US arms package bill will pass as soon as February

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

If the pan-green camps win a majority in today's legislative elections, the special arms budget needed to purchase a US$18 billion weapons package will pass in the first session convened by the new legislature in February, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday.

Chen made the remarks while receiving Steve Chabot, a Republican congressman from Ohio and co-chairman of the pro-Taiwan US Congressional Taiwan Caucus, at the Presidential Office yesterday.

Defying expectations, however, Chen didn't touch upon issues relating to Taiwan's name-rectification plan for its oversea missions and state-run enterprises during his meeting with Chabot.

While extending his congratulations again on US President George W. Bush's re-election victory, Chen told Chabot that he hopes that after ballots are cast in today's legislative elections, he will -- like Bush's ruling Republican Party -- enjoy a stable majority in the new legislature which will help improve the nation's governance.

Chen then noted his recent vow to the public that once the pan-green camp wins a majority in the new legislature, he will invite leaders from all sectors to join the Committee for Cross-strait Peace and Development, and push for a reopening of cross-strait negotiations so that the two sides can engage in a dialogue for permanent cross-strait peace and stability.

Chabot also met with Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday morning at the Presidential Office. Lu told Chabot that Chen's proposal to rectify the name of Taiwan's state-owned enterprises was not one made out of political concern but out of a desire to distinguish these enterprises from Chinese companies.

Chabot responded that he supports Taiwan's name-rectification and he believes Taiwan's future should be decided by its 23 million people and should not be determined by anyone else.

Prior to his visit to Taiwan Thursday night, Chabot and the other Congressional Taiwan Caucus co-chairmen wrote a letter to Chen expressing their support for Taiwan's plan to rectify the name of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the US to the Taiwan Representative Office in the US. The office is Taiwan's de facto embassy in the absence of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries.

In the letter, Chabot said that a new name for the office that includes the word "Taiwan" would better reflect the characteristics of the government in Taiwan, and that he will do whatever he can to facilitate the name-change effort.

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