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PRESIDENT LAMBASTS FRENCH LEADER ON REFERENDUM COMMENTS

2004-01-27 23:48:26

    Taipei, Jan. 27 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian lambasted his French counterpart's comment on Taiwan's referendum plan Tuesday, describing Jacques Chirac as democratically illiterate.

    In an interview with a local television station, Chen said that it is understandable that Chirac made the remarks, as France's priority is doing business with mainland China.

    However, he said, it is regrettable that Chirac shares Beijing view in "twisting" Taiwan's plan to hold a referendum as a means of moving toward independence and ignoring the "universal value" of referendum.

    This is more harmful for France rather than for Chirac himself, according to Chen.

    Speaking at a state banquet in honor of visiting mainland Chinese President Hu Jintao held in Paris late Monday, Chirac called Taiwan's planned March 20 referendum "a grave mistake" that will destabilize Asia.

    The referendum, which the government says will not alter the cross-Taiwan Strait status quo, will ask Taiwan's voters if they agree or disagree that the country should further bolster its anti-missile defenses and if they think the government should begin negotiations with mainland China on setting up a framework for peace and the mutual benefit of the people on both sides of the strait.

(By Huang Kwang-chun)

ENDITEM/J



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