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CABINET POSITION PAPER ON REFERENDUM DUE IN EARLY FEBRUARY: SPOKESMAN

2004-01-27 21:04:42

    Taipei, Jan. 27 (CNA) The Executive Yuan will iron out a position paper in early February in a fresh effort to better explain to the public the contents of a planned referendum, Cabinet spokesman Lin Chia-lung said Tuesday.

    Relevant government agencies have been working on the issue and will submit their draft opinions and assessments by Jan. 31 to the Executive Yuan, which will try to hammer out an across-the-board joint position paper in a bid to provide a better explanation to the public of the referendum slated to coincide with the March 20 presidential election, Lin said.

    According to the cabinet spokesman, the Executive Yuan called an inter-ministerial meeting recently in which officials from the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central Election Commission got together to discuss and exchange their viewpoints on the matter.

    Voters who go to polling stations across Taiwan on March 20 to elect the next president will also receive a referendum ballot giving them the opportunity to answer "yes" or "no" on two questions: Should Taiwan increase its purchases of anti-missile arms in view of Beijing's missile threat; and should the government try to start cross-Taiwan Strait talks on building a set of mechanisms to forge mutual benefits for the people of both sides.

    The Ministry of National Defense will put forward detailed and comprehensive evaluations regarding the first question, based on its national defense and military procurement policies, while the Mainland Affairs Council will focus on the second by assessing the conditions and the timing under which bilateral negotiations could begin, according to Lin.

    For the time being, the Executive Yuan has kicked off a wide range of arrangements and preparations for the referendum and it will issue an official and public explanation to the people after President Chen Shui-bian has made public his approval of the projected referendum, he said.

(By Flor Wang)

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