Leader says Taiwan wants F-16 jets as leverage

AP News
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Posted: May 12, 2011 11:46 AM

Taiwan's president says the U.S. should sell the self-governing island F-16 fighter jets to help it maintain a credible defense and provide it leverage in negotiations with China.

President Ma Ying-jeou (mah yeeng-joh) said Thursday that F-16 C/D jets and diesel-powered submarines are needed to maintain Taiwan's "aerial and naval integrity."

He spoke in a webcast to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Ma faces re-election next year. He defended engagement with Beijing that led to an economic pact last year which he said boosted trade with China and other nations, and helped regional stability.

He said political issues were not excluded from the future agenda for talks with Beijing, but economic issues should be addressed first.