Taiwan needs new F-16s: US congressman
By Joseph Yeh,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- A visiting U.S. congressman yesterday supported calls for the U.S. to sell new F-16 fighters and submarines to Taiwan in order to meet its defensive needs.
January 29, 2013, 12:38 am TWN
“I believe Taiwan should have the ability to acquire new F-16s and I have in the past written to the president to urge the administration to grant that request from Taiwan,” Ed Royce, new chair of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said at a press conference in Taipei.
Royce said the current U.S. administration thinks it will suffice for Taiwan to retrofit its existing F-16A/B jets; however, he said approving the sale of new models is a better decision for Washington.
The congressman also said that Taiwan's aging submarine fleet is in desperate need of an upgrade, and that he supports calls for the U.S. to sell new subs to the island.
Royce and a 20-man delegation arrived in Taiwan Saturday for a three-day visit to discuss bilateral trade and security ties.
The delegation has met with President Ma Ying-jeou and other officials, and has toured a naval base in Kaohsiung to understand the nation's defensive needs.
TIFA Should Resume ASAP to Resolve Dispute
Speaking during yesterday's press conference, Royce said one purpose of the delegation's trip is to strengthen Taiwan-U.S economic ties by pushing for the resumption of long-stalled trade talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
Asked to comment on whether the U.S. will push Taiwan to open up its market to U.S pork, the congressman did not give a direct answer, saying only that both sides will find ways to resolve differences after the new round of TIFA talks have begun.
“We have been able to compromise in the past on many issues to resolve trade disputes,” he said, adding that the TIFA process should kick off sooner to serve as platform to find common ground on trade issue.
Talks under TIFA have been suspended since 2007 due to U.S. dissatisfaction with Taiwan's previous restrictions on imports of American beef.
In July 2012, the Legislative Yuan passed amendments to a food safety act, paving the way for the country to import U.S. beef containing ractopamine.
Since then, there have been numerous reports indicating that Taipei and Washington are expected to restart talks under TIFA soon.
Royce and his delegation departed Taipei for Manila yesterday evening.
The trip was part of an East Asia trip, the congressman's first overseas tour in his new capacity.