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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Taiwan Denies Report of Arms Sales to Libya

AFP: Taiwan’s defense ministry on Aug. 2 denied a press report that Taipei is to sell rifles, machine guns and military telecommunications equipment to Libya.

Wu Chi-fang, a ministry spokesman, said “there is no such thing” after the Taipei-based Apple Daily reported that Taiwan had agreed to supply the items to Libya following President Chen Shui-bian’s surprise visit there earlier this year.

The paper, citing unidentified national security sources, said on Aug. 2 that Taiwan had invited “important Libyan military personnel” to observe a live-fire war game last month after resuming military exchanges with Tripoli following Chen’s trip.

The Libyan visitors later listed some 20 types of military items they wanted to buy, including rifles, machine guns and military telecommunications equipment, the paper said.

Taipei agreed to supply some of the items requested, the paper added.
The volume and value of the sales were not disclosed.

Chen made a surprise visit to oil-rich Libya in May after the United States barred him from stopping in New York or San Francisco on his return from a trip to Latin America.

China, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory and opposes overseas visits by the island’s leaders, blasted Tripoli for allowing Chen to visit and meet with Libyan officials.

Taiwan and Libya opened diplomatic relations in 1959 but broke ties in 1978 when Tripoli switched recognition to Beijing. Taipei later set up a trade office in Libya in 1980 but shut it down in 1997.

Only 25 countries recognize Taipei instead of Beijing, most of them small nations in Africa and the Pacific.

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