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2004-01-20 22:09:57

    Taipei, Jan. 20 (CNA) Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien said Tuesday that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is collecting information about the reactions of foreign governments, scholars and opinion leaders regarding Taiwan's "320" referendum.

    Chien made the remarks while inspecting MOFA units at Chiang Kai-shek International Airport -- Taiwan's main gateway -- ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday, which is also a peak travel season.

    Since President Chen Shui-bian announced the two questions to be put to the nation in its first-ever nationwide referendum to coincide with the March 20 presidential election, Chien said, MOFA's overseas offices around the world have been endeavoring to collect opinions expressed by foreign governments, news media and influential opinion leaders about the referendum topics.

    Chien did not answer an inquiry as to whether the government will send a delegation to the United States to explain the details of the "320" referendum.

    Earlier in the day, Victor Chin, director of the MOFA's North American Affairs Department, told a regular news conference that the ministry has no immediate plan to send a delegation to the United States over the referendum issue, since existing bilateral communication channels are already functioning smoothly.

    However, Chin said that if necessary, MOFA does not rule out the possibility of sending a delegation to the United States in the future to expound the reasoning behind the government's referendum plan.

    Chen said last Friday that the referendum will offer an avenue for the Taiwan people to express their opinions about whether Taiwan should strengthen its missile defense system in the face of mainland China's missile threat and whether the government should form a peaceful interactive mechanism to negotiate with Beijing.

(By Sofia Wu)


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