Thu, Jan 19, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Paal dismisses arms bill speculation

`NONSENSE' The outgoing director of the American Institute in Taiwan denied that he had resigned out of disapproval at the legislature's handling of the arms package

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Douglas Paal yesterday dismissed speculation linking his resignation to the controversial arms procurement budget as "nonsense."

Paal's announcement on Tuesday that he was resigning from the AIT made him the center of media attention yesterday when he arrived about 30 minutes late at a tea party held by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

The KMT held the tea party to introduce itself to foreign ambassadors and representatives at its headquarters yesterday.

The AIT director said on Tuesday that he will leave the post on Jan 25.

Paal told reporters it was "sheer speculation" that his resignation had been made out of disapproval at the legislature's handling of the arms procurement budget.

He stressed the importance of Taiwan maintaining an adequate of defense capability.

"It's in Taiwan's interest to provide for its own security," Paal said.

While refusing to disclose the reasons behind his departure, Paal expressed concern about the future relationship between the government and the opposition parties if former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) takes over as premier.

KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) declined to comment on the possibility of Su becoming premier, but promised to maintain a "working relationship with the ruling party," and said that the KMT will announce its stance on the arms-procurement budget in March.

"In March, the KMT will make public its position on the arms purchase and other issues," he said.

Saying that cooperation between Taiwan's ruling and opposition parties is in the interest of the US, Paal called on the KMT and DPP to take a "reasonable approach" to the arms purchase issue.

Ma said that he will lead the KMT to be a "reasonable" and "responsible" opposition party.

"We should care about the arms procurement budget, instead of making the US worry about the issue. We should be concerned about our own security," he told reporters, adding that the US was not pressuring the country on the arms procurement budget.

More than 50 ambassadors and foreign representatives attended the tea party yesterday.

"The KMT will continue to be rational and reasonable in dealing with the ruling party, and certainly will be more proactive in our dealings with the ruling party in the national legislature, particularly in the field of foreign affairs," Ma told the envoys.

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