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PRESIDENT CHEN DOESN'T RULE OUT ANY POSSIBILITY FOR CROSS-STRAIT TIES

2004-05-20 14:28:06

    Taipei, May 20 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian said Thursday the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can seek to establish relations in any form whatsoever, so long as there is the consent of the 23 million people of Taiwan.

    Chen made the remark in his inaugural speech, titled "Paving the Way for a Sustainable Taiwan."

    Noting that Taiwan is a completely free and democratic society, Chen said neither single individual nor political party can make the ultimate choice for the people of Taiwan. "If both sides are willing, on the basis of goodwill, to create an environment engendered upon 'peaceful development and freedom of choice, ' then in the future, the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China -- or Taiwan and China -- can seek to establish relations in any form whatsoever, " Chen said, adding that his administration "would not exclude any possibility, so long as there is the consent of the 23 million people of Taiwan."

    Chen further said he would like to reaffirm the promises and principles set forth in his inaugural speech in 2000. "Those commitments have been honored -- they have not been changed over the past four years, nor will they change in the next four years," Chen pledged.

    Upon this foundation, Chen went on, his next step will be to invite both the governing and opposition parties, in conjunction with representatives from various walks of the society, to participate in the establishment of a "Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development, " combining the collective insight and wisdom of all parties and citizenry, to draft the "Guidelines for Cross-Strait Peace and Development." "The goal will be to pave the way for formulating a new relationship of cross-strait peace, stability and sustainable development," Chen stressed.

(By Sofia Wu)

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