Thu, May 11, 2006 - Page 3 News List

KMT accuses government of `buying' transit stop in United Arab Emirates

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators yesterday accused the government of providing the United Arab Emirates (UAE) military and economic benefits in exchange for allowing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to make a stopover in Abu Dhabi, but Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials denied the allegation.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) told the press yesterday that the Ministry of National Defense (MND) had admitted that it had been considering the purchase of between eight and 12 Seal Delivery Vehicles from the UAE.

Lin said that the ministry's Vice Minister Chu Kai-sheng (朱凱生) confirmed the information to the legislature's National Defense Committee at a closed-door meeting for discussion of the ministry's budget bills yesterday.

"I strongly opposed the deal, valued at NT$1.6 billion (US$50.82 million), as that kind of equipment would be useless in the current cross-strait situation," Lin said.

DPP Legislator Tang Huo-shen (湯火聖) denied that Chu had confirmed any arms deal with the UAE.

"Chu said that the ministry would not ink the deal with the UAE without first gaining the necessary budget from the legislature. Lin's question on the purchase plan was not confirmed by Chu," Tang said.

Ministry spokesman Wu Chi-fang (吳季方) refused to comment, saying that no information from the meeting should be revealed.

KMT Legislator Lin Yi-shih (林益世) also accused the Presidential Office of asking Chinese Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to sell 20 percent of its shares to a UAE company to obtain landing clearance for Chen.

"Parris Chang (張旭成), deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council, sent a fax to the Executive Yuan ahead of Sheikh Harned BinZayed Al Nahyan's trip to Taiwan in June last year, giving the Presidential Office instructions," Lin Yi-shih said.

Chang said in the fax that the Sheikh was willing to purchase 20 percent of CPC's shares and sign a Memorandum of Understanding with CPC, the legislator said.

Sheikh Harned BinZayed Al Nahyan is the minister of economic affairs for the UAE and the president of International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

Lin said that CPC's plan to sell 20 percent of its shares, worth NT$30 billion, to IPIC was in return for arranging a stopover.

CPC president Chen Bao-lang (陳寶郎) told a press conference yesterday that CPC had decided not to sell its shares.

Presidential Office deputy Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said that Lin Yi-shih's accusation was just speculation.

"The Chang fax was just to help the visitor arrange meetings with people while he was in Taiwan. Whether CPC wanted to cooperate with him or release its shares was CPC's own decision," Cho said.

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