Sat, Nov 11, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Navy team in US for submarine talks

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) yesterday said that the ministry had sent a delegation of navy officers to the US to renegotiate terms for the nation's submarine purchase.

"Initially, we planned to spend NT$11.7 billion [US$355 million] for the submarines, but lawmakers complained that they were way too expensive. So we need to re-negotiate with the US representatives," Lee said.

Lee, accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳), made the remarks during a briefing with the Taiwan Solidarity Union caucus yesterday morning to discuss the impact of the US' midterm elections on US-Taiwan military cooperation.

Both Lee and Huang said that even with the Democratic win, they believed that US policy would be consistent and that its stance on Taiwan's arms procurement would not change.

Lee said the delegation currently visiting the US will return shortly with more information on the US policy on selling arms to Taiwan.

Lee said that while the budget for P-3C maritime aircraft has been approved, the budget for one Patriot Advanced Capacity?3 missile system has been frozen and NT$4.1 billion have been removed from the budget for eight diesel submarines.

"It is still looking good. Everything is still under control. We still have a chance of having them approve [the budget] before the end of this legislative session," Lee said.

In addition to the long-pending arms procurement proposal, Lee said that the nation's plan to purchase F-16C/D jetfighters was almost a done deal.

US representatives have promised that the approval of the arms procurement proposal would facilitate the procurement of jet fighters, Lee said.

It was the first time that Lee confirmed procurement plans for the F-16C/Ds.

Lee said his ministry would continue its communication and cooperation with its counterparts in the US and Japan, and more retired military personnel from these two countries would be invited to visit Taiwan's annual Hankuang Military Exercise.

Additional reporting by CNA

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