Sat, Jun 14, 2008 - Page 3 News List

DPP demands that government comes clean on arms sales

REQUEST OR NOT?The DPP believes the KMT government requested that Washington freeze arms sales so as not to jeopardize the Beijing talks

By Shih Hsiu-Chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday demanded that the government explain whether it had urged the US to freeze arms sales to the country.

“We know from various sources in the US that the reason behind the suspension of arms sales to Taiwan was the KMT government,” DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said.

Cheng said that the government should explain itself to the public if it had decided to give up the former DPP administration’s arms procurement policy.

The alleged KMT request has led to speculation that it was in connection with the resumption of cross-strait talks in Beijing this week, said Lin Chen-wei (林成蔚), director of the DPP’s Department of International Affairs.

National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi (蘇起) is rumored to have made a secret trip to Hong Kong to meet Chinese government officials and arrange the cross-strait talks.

“Su Chi should also give an account of whether he used making the request to the US as a condition to get China to agree to resume the talks during his trip to Hong Kong,” Lin said.

The DPP officials, however, refused to elaborate on what they knew about the communication between the government and the US on the postponement.

The allegations against the government came in the wake of a report in the latest edition of Defense News that the US has frozen arms sales to Taiwan until after the Beijing Olympics or until US President George W. Bush leaves office.

Other media outlets have reported that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley had frozen the deals.

The paper said that Taiwan had privately urged Bush not to send Congress the notifications for the approval of weapons sales to Taiwan in the coming weeks as it was negotiating with China on launching regular direct flights and expanding tourism.

Defense News said the sales would amount to some US$12 billion for the acquisition of 30 Apache Longbow attack helicopters, 60 Black Hawk helicopters, eight diesel-electric submarines, four PAC-3 air defense missile batteries and 66 F-16 fighter aircraft.

Executive Yuan Spokeswoman Vanessa Shih (史亞平) denied the allegations and said the government had not heard from the US that it was suspending arms sales.

“The Ministry of National Defense has good communications with the US and we hope the US approves the sales as soon as possible,” Shih said.

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