Thu, Sep 14, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Yu confident arms procurement will be approved

US TRIP Addressing reporters at the National Press Club in the US, the DPP chairman also touched on the anti-Chen movement and interference from China

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Yu Shyi-kun, at the start of a three-day visit to Washington, told reporters on Tuesday that he had expressed confidence to US officials that the Legislative Yuan will approve the massive US arms sales package in its next session.

During a meeting with senior officials of the US National Security Council on Tuesday morning, his first with government officials during his trip, Yu said he had raised three issues: arms sales, constitutional reform and democratic rights in Taiwan.

However, legislators traveling with Yu told the Taipei Times that the US officials appeared more interested in cross-strait relations than in the issues Yu raised. They did not elaborate.

There was no discussion of a possible sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan or how such a deal might be linked to Washington's desire to see the original arms sales package go through, the legislators said.

Yu said that US officials understood that the arms sales could not go forward without a consensus in the Legislative Yuan.

"I told them that I really have much greater confidence that when the next session of the Legislative Yuan reconvenes, it [the arms procurement] will be passed," Yu told reporters during a press conference at the National Press Club.

Yu was introduced by press club official Peter Hickman, who noted that Yu had been barred from visiting Washington when he was Taiwan's premier. Hickman also repeated an invitation he has made in the past for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to speak at the club if he ever comes to Washington.

Yu spoke in Mandarin and his remarks were translated.

On Chen's plan to push for constitutional reform during his remaining two years in office, Yu said he explained to US officials the "high threshold" of consensus required to amend the Constitution.

US officials understood that constitutional reform was not an issue that the DPP could address on its own, Yu said.

"The US response was that they will continue to pay attention to the issue, but they will not worry about it," Yu said.

Speaking to reporters, Yu complained about China's interference in Taiwanese domestic affairs, and criticized the current street protests seeking Chen's resignation.

Answering a question, Yu said he did not have any evidence, however, which would suggest that the pan-blues and China were coordinating their efforts to discredit Chen and force a wedge between Taiwan and the US.

Nevertheless, he said China was threatening Taiwan's freedom and democracy, through actions that go beyond the installation of 800 missiles facing Taiwan and the passing of last year's so-called "Anti-Secession" Law.

"They have [also] already stretched their hand to the domestic political affairs of Taiwan. They have interfered in the democratic processes of Taiwan," he said.

Yu said he did not think efforts by former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) to force Chen to step down would cause a split between the president and the DPP, given Chen's support in the Legislative Yuan and at grass roots level.

If the DPP had differences, Yu said, the party would "work them out via democratic mechanisms," such as party primary elections.

Given that the pan-blue effort to recall Chen had failed in June, Yu said the street protests did "not set a good example or precedent for future practices, because if any opposition parties for any reason get people to engage in this kind of protest action, then it won't be good in the long run for the democratic development of Taiwan."

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