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MAC HEADS INVITES MAINLAND CHINA'S TOP NEGOTIATOR TO VISIT TAIWAN

2004-05-27 22:27:21

    Taipei, May 27 (CNA) Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu invited mainland China's leading liaison official Thursday to meet here with his Taiwan counterpart, labeling such a meeting a common aspiration of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

    Wu, Taiwan's top mainland policy planner, issued the invitation during a farewell party held for outgoing Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Vice Chairman Shi Hwei-yow, who will assume the post of chief of the Coast Guard Administration. The Cabinet-level MAC oversees the operations of the semi-official SEF.

    Saying that he keenly hopes for such a meeting between SEF Chairman F.C. Koo and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Wang Daohan, Wu claimed that the relevant government authorities will do their best to help push for a visit by Wang, regardless of what he might plan to discuss or with whom.

    Wu stressed that the people of Taiwan would warmly welcome Wang and promised that he would take charge of arranging meetings and visits for him.

    There are absolutely no limits in this field on the part of Taiwan and both the Taiwan and mainland people are also hoping for a visit to Taiwan by Wang, according to the MAC chairman.

    MAC Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san called on Beijing to respond to Wu's invitation quickly and added that the Taiwan authorities will swiftly launch the necessary preparations and arrangements as soon as there is a response.

    According to Chiu, Wu is sincere in extending the public invitation to Wang on the grounds that a Koo-Wang meeting would help the two sides to re-open talks, an issue mentioned in a seven-point statement released by Beijing May 17 prior to the May 20 inauguration of President Chen Shui-bian's second four-year term.

    The government has been mulling feasible ways to increase bilateral exchanges since the March 20 presidential election, and inviting Wang to visit Taiwan forms a part of the government's mainland policy that is coherent and consistent, Chiu said.

    As the overall situation across the strait has changed greatly in recent years, Taiwan and the mainland should seize the opportunity to rekindle negotiations as the best way of continuing their interaction, he said.

    The government would do its utmost to make a visit by Wang safe, comfortable and constructive, he stressed, adding that he has exchanged opinions with Koo on the matter.

    Koo and Wang met for the first time in Singapore in 1993, marking a historic contact between Taiwan and the mainland in nearly 50 years after Taiwan split from the mainland in 1949 due to a civil war. During that meeting, they agreed to hold institutionalized two-way talks.

    But systematic talks between the SEF and ARATS were suspended in 1999 after former President Lee Teng-hui aired his "two states" theory a year earlier.

    Lee's rhetoric in terms of Taiwan-mainland ties prompted Beijing to test-fire missiles in the Taiwan Strait. Two-way talks have been stalled and cross-strait relations have made little progress since then.

    The semi-official SEF was set up by Taipei in 1991 to deal with bilateral exchanges in the absence of formal contacts between Taiwan and the mainland.

    Chang Wu-ueh, a famous and long-term expert on mainland affairs, called on the Beijing authorities not to refuse the MAC's invitation and consider the proposal thoroughly. The two sides should put aside their political disputes to push for a new round of Koo-Wang meeting for mutual benefits, he said.

(By Flor Wang)

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