Fri, Jun 10, 2005 - Page 3 News List

AIT reaffirms US commitment to Taiwan's defense

LUNCHEON TALK Only two members of the Legislative Yuan's National Defense Committee , both from the DPP, showed up for a luncheon hosted by AIT

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The deputy director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday expressed concern over Taiwan's determination to defend itself, while reiterating the US' resolve to help the country.

"The arms-procurement project was requested by the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] administration and pursued by the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] government, but the procurement plan is still bogged down in the legislature," DPP Legislator Shen Fa-hui (沈發惠) quoted AIT Deputy Director David Keegan as saying.

"Taiwan has to show its determination to defend itself," he quoted Keegan as saying.

Members of the legislature's National Defense Committee had been invited to attend a luncheon with Keegan yesterday. The luncheon was originally be scheduled to be hosted by AIT Director Douglas Paal.

Shen and fellow DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) were the only two to attend the reception. Opposition committee members, including KMT legislators Lu Hsiu-yen (盧秀燕) and Shuai Hua-ming (帥化民) and People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) failed to show up, along with Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Ho Min-hao (何敏豪).

The KMT and PFP oppose the arms-procurement budget.

Shen said that he told Keegan that he did not expect the arms-procurement budget to pass the legislature until the KMT chairmanship election was over.

He said that Keegan had told him that there were variables in the political arena, including the KMT election, the just-passed constitutional amendments and the year-end elections.

"I told him that the crux of the problem lies in the attitude of opposition parties and that they might want to consider negotiating with opposition parties, especially the new KMT chairman, to solicit support for the budget," Shen said.

While the opposition agrees that national security is a priority, Shen said that the matter has become a political issue.

Shen said that Keegan was also curious about the impact the constitutional amendments may have on Taiwan's political climate. Shen said he told Keegan that one immediate difference might be the way lawmakers exercise their duties.

While grandstanding and wild talking may work now, Shen said lawmakers might in the future restrain themselves from adopting extreme and dramatic behavior and focus more on regional affairs in order to court voters in the center.

Shen said that although he understood the opposition's decision not to attend the luncheon, they missed a great opportunity to discuss the arms issue with one of the highest-ranking US representatives in the country.

Shen said Keegan expressed regret over some media interpretations of the lunch as some kind of plot.

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