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U.S. still assessing sale of F-16 fighters, submarines to Taiwan

2010/01/31 21:05:03

Taipei, Jan. 31 (CNA) The government is still negotiating withthe United States over the sale of advanced F-16 C/D fighter planesand diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan, Premier Wu Den-yih saidSunday after the two items were left out of an arms package intendedfor Taiwan.

Washington is still evaluating the sale of the two weaponssystems coveted by Taipei, Wu said, a day after the U.S. governmentdid not include them in the US$6.4 billion arms package it approvedfor sale to Taiwan on Friday.

The package consists of two Osprey Class mine hunting vessels, 60UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, 114 Patriot Advanced Capability-3missile systems, 12 ATM-84L and RTM-84L Harpoon Block II Telemetrymissiles and a range of telecommunications equipment.

On whether the price tag of the U.S. package was higher thanexpected, Wu said the government will calculate the price of eachitem based on the price list provided by the U.S. and make apurchasing decision only after careful evaluation.

"We have to figure out whether there is a price difference, " Wuadded.

Buying weapons at a reasonable price for the country'sself-defense is the government's basic guideline, Wu said, notingthat the government will handle the deal based on this principle.

The purchase of F-16C/D jets and submarines is still underdiscussion, and Washington is evaluating the sale, but negotiationson the submarines will be difficult because of their very high price,Wu said.

The premier refused to characterize the announcement of the armssales as part of an effort to mend fences following a dispute betweenthe two countries over Taiwan's restriction of some U.S. beefimports.

Taiwan and the U.S. have long maintained a strong friendship andshare common values and interests, Wu said, and the beef dispute wassimply trade friction that would not impact arms sales, relations andthe friendship between the two sides.

He stressed that Taiwan's government will work to mend thefriction between the two countries with sincerity and concreteaction.

Ministry of National Defense spokesman Yu Sy-tue said Tuesdaythat Taiwan will seek to buy modern weapons, equipment and othersupplies for self-defense through various channels.

Yu said he believes the U.S. will evaluate the balance ofmilitary power between China and Taiwan, and he hoped that Washingtonwould continue to provide the island with defensive weapons accordingto the Taiwan Relations Act.

On whether the price tag of the U.S. package is too high, thespokesman said the ministry has not yet received relevant documentsfrom Washington and once they are received, the ministry wouldcarefully assess whether the budget request is fair.

Yu also said the government will do its utmost to negotiate withthe U.S. to protect the country's interests.

(By Lee Shu-hua and Y.L. Kao)
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