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PREMIER CONFIRMS SUSPENSION OF HIGH-LEVEL TAIWAN-FRANCE EXCHANGES

2004-01-30 23:04:36

    Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) Premier Yu Shyi-kun confirmed the suspension of high-level Taiwan-France exchanges Friday and said that it was French President Jacques Chirac who damaged the feelings between the people of Taiwan and the French.

    Yu said that two Cabinet members -- Council for Cultural Affairs Chairwoman Tchen Yu-chiou and National Science Council Chairman Wei Che-ho -- have indefinitely postponed planned visits to France.

    Yu said that French media and lawmakers have mostly been on Taiwan's side after Chirac described Taiwan's planned referendum as a "grave mistake" during a state banquet he hosted Monday in honor of visiting mainland Chinese President Hu Jintao.

    According to wire reports, Yu said, half of French lawmakers chose to be absent when Hu Jintao was invited to deliver a speech at the parliament and many French media outlets criticized Chirac's comment on Taiwan's referendum.

    Taiwan plans to hold a referendum on March 20 to coincide with the presidential election. It will contain two questions -- whether Taiwan should strengthen its anti-missile capabilities in the face of the mainland Chinese missile threat and whether Taiwan should hold talks with Beijing to establish a peaceful and stable framework for cross-strait interactions.

(By Huang Kwang-chun)

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