U.S. will not offer new F-16s to Taiwan: report

Sep 15, 2011, 7:45 p.m.

(Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama has decided against selling new F-16 jets to Taiwan but will give the island an arms package worth $4.2 billion, the Washington Times reported.

The newspaper quoted administration and congressional officials as saying the U.S. Congress will be briefed later on Friday on the proposals.

The White House declined comment, the newspaper said. Officials in Taiwan had no immediate comment.

The Obama administration had said it would decide by Oct 1 on Taiwan's request to buy 66 late-model F-16 fighter planes built by Lockheed Martin Corp.

Since 2006, the United States has balked at providing Taiwan the F-16 C/D models, potentially valued at more than $8 billion, apparently for fear of angering China, which regards the self-ruled island as its own.

China's top official newspaper warned last week that "madmen" on Capitol Hill who want the United States to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan were playing with fire and could pay a "disastrous price."

The package proposed by the administration will include weapons and equipment to upgrade Taiwan's existing F-16 A/B model aircraft, the Washington times said.

(Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; editing by Brian Rhoads)

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