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US F-16s, subs for Taiwan still on cards: Taiwan Envoy

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The Black Hawk helicopter is a part of the $6.4 billion arms deal the US has signed with Taiwan.

TAIPEI (AFP): Taiwan's top envoy to the US has said that Washington is still considering whether to sell submarines and F-16 fighter aircraft to the island, threatening to further fuel a row with China.

The remarks by Jason Yuan, the island's de facto ambassador to Washington, came after the United States on Friday unveiled a $6.4 billion arms package for Taiwan to help counter China's rapidly growing military.

The weapons already agreed include Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters, and communications equipment for Taiwan's F-16 fleet but did not include the submarines and new fighter aircraft that Taipei had asked for.

While analysts have said they doubt Washington would risk angering Beijing by approving the more sensitive items, Yuan said the US had never ruled out selling the island submarines and fighters.

“The US government is expected to complete its evaluation report on Taiwan's military strength in a week or two,” Yuan was quoted by the state Central News Agency as saying in a dispatch from Washington.

“Until then it will be considering the issues, like the type of aircraft and the design of the submarines,” the envoy said.

Beijing reacted angrily to the arms deal unveiled on Friday, saying it was cutting military and security contact with the United States.

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