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2004-01-31 18:44:01

    Taipei, Jan. 31 (CNA) Ties between the United States and Taiwan are more wide-ranging than referendum and Washington's concerns about Taiwan's planned referendum will not affect its cooperation with Taiwan, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said Saturday.

    MOFA spokesman Richard Shih said there are ample communication channels between Washington and Taipei and that MOFA will continue its efforts to explain Taiwan's stance on the referendum to the United States. "We believe this will improve U.S. understanding of the issue," he added.

    Shih made the comment after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in Beijing the previous day that the referendum raises questions about those who want to hold it.

    Shih admitted that Washington does not see eye to eye with Taiwan on the referendum due to its concerns that it might destabilize the situation across the Taiwan Strait, and Taiwan understands the U.S. concerns.

    Taiwan has repeatedly made it clear that the referendum will not be used to justify the island's permanent split from the mainland and will not change the cross-strait status quo. "We believe the United States will get a better understanding of that" through MOFA's persistent communication, he said.

    In any case, the close ties between Taiwan and the United States are broad-based and referendum is only part of those ties and will not affect the cooperation between them, Shih said.

    He said MOFA welcomes Armitage's reiteration in Beijing of his country's commitment to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act while confirming Washington's adherence to its three comuniques with Beijing. "It shows that the U.S. attitude toward Taiwan has not changed and is helpful to the stability across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

    Armitage's comment echoed U.S. President George Bush's misgivings about Taiwan's referendum when he said Dec. 10 that his government opposes any unilateral change to the status quo across the Taiwan Strait and that there are indications that Taiwan's president may be trying to do just that.

(By Maubo Chang)


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