Sun, Nov 19, 2006 - Page 2 News List

US-Taiwan defense dialogue concludes for yet another year

SMALL STEP FORWARD Washington is reportedly pleased there has been progress on long-planned arms purchases. The full package remains stalled

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA, WASHINGTON

An annual dialogue between the deputy defense ministers of Taiwan and the US concluded earlier this week in Washington, with both sides reaching consensus on issues concerning arms deals, military exchanges and defense industry cooperation, sources said.

The meeting was headed by Vice Minister of National Defense Ko Chen-heng (柯承亨) and US Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England.

The Central News Agency (CNA) said that "the US thinks the meeting was successful and effective in clarifying a lot of misleading information it had obtained from the media, especially about Taiwan's arms procurement package," citing an unidentified source.

Sources said "Washington is happy with the fact that part of the budget for the procurement package has passed preliminary review in Taiwan's Legislative Yuan," CNA reported.

The Legislative Yuan's National Defense Committee finally agreed earlier this month to allocate NT$37.06 million (US$1.13 million) for a submarine feasibility study and NT$2.48 million for P-3C maritime patrol aircraft in the government's annual budget proposal for next year, although it blocked NT$4.2 million in "procurement operation fees" for PAC-III anti-missile batteries.

However, the Legislative Yuan has thus far refused to approve a supplementary budget worth NT$6.3 billion, including NT$200 million for a submarine feasibility assessment, NT$1.7 billion toward purchasing 12 P-3Cs and NT$3.7 billion for the upgrading of the PAC-II missiles.

The US government has repeatedly expressed concern over the delay in passing the budget for the arms procurement, and Stephen Young, director of the American Institute in Taiwan's (AIT) Taipei office, urged Taiwan last month to pass it this fall.

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