Taiwan's president says he thinks the island's parliament will soon approve a massive arms deal with the United States.

President Chen Shui-bian told visiting U.S. congressman Tom Lantos Monday that he expects the $18 billion budget for the purchase to be given the okay in the first half of the year.

The opposition Nationalists and People First Party, which have a small majority in parliament, have said the military spending is excessive and promised to block the deal.

The arms package includes submarines, Patriot missile systems and anti-submarine aircraft.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.