P.M. BRIEFING : Taiwan Refuses Fishing Boat Check

From Times wire service s

Taiwan today refused to allow American personnel to board and inspect two of its fishing vessels suspected of involvement in the sale of $1.3-million worth of illegal salmon, a U.S. government spokesman said.

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one of the two Taiwanese vessels attempted to ram a government-chartered boat that was shadowing it in the Pacific Ocean.

Reed Boatwright, spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau and another vessel were shadowing Taiwanese craft.

"The Taiwanese have refused permission to board," Boatwright said. "It was fairly emphatic. Options are being prepared at the moment, but they are not beyond the draft stage."

Earlier this week, federal agents arrested two Taiwanese men as they emerged from a bank vault in Seattle carrying suitcases containing more than $1 million in cash that they allegedly received as payment for 500 metric tons of illegally caught salmon.

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