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2004-02-03 16:54:48

    Taipei, Feb. 3 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian on Tuesday called for the signing of an agreement between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait on the establishment of a framework for peace and stability in cross-strait interactions.

    In his first news conference with members of the media from home and abroad this year on why he is promoting what he refers to as a "peace referendum" to be held on March 20, President Chen called for a cross-strait agreement to serve as the basis for future cooperation and the maintenance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

    Signing a cross-strait "peace and stability" agreement will not only cultivate and further enhance mutual trust and minimize misjudgments, but will also help the two sides to face and understand the basic elements and rules for peaceful coexistence, Chen said. "Both sides of the Strait are now at a crucial juncture in respective developments. Taiwan is in the process of major domestic reforms, and mainland China is focused on its economic development. If we are able to seize the momentum, it will have great impact on our development and future prospects. The key lies in whether both sides can create a stable environment conducive for each side to devote itself to its own development," Chen said. "Seeking to establish a peace and stability framework for interaction will not only meet the needs of both sides, but will also allow each side to seek greater welfare for their peoples. "With the concrete, common goal of seeking peace and stability, we must seriously consider engaging in negotiations through formally authorized representatives from both sides as early as possible, " Chen said.

    After March 20 this year, the president said, "We will invite mainland China to appoint its special envoy to meet and to work with our special envoy towards the initiation of cross-strait negotiation, in light of 'One Principle and Four Major Issue Areas.'"

    The "One Principle" is to establish the principle of peace, Chen said, adding that in order to establish joint responsibility for maintaining peace and the consensus to cooperate, both sides must recognize that maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait is the joint responsibility of both parties and should, therefore, necessitate working together to maintain peace.

    The "Four Issue Areas, " meanwhile, are: the establishment of a negotiation mechanism; exchanges based on equality and reciprocity; the establishment of a political relationship; and the prevention of military conflicts.

    Among the various points set forth, the president advocated having representatives from both sides stationed in each other's capital cities to facilitate negotiations.

    Regarding reciprocity, the president said that he wanted to see provisions for fair trials and legal protection of people of "the other side, " and mutual recognition of the laws and judicial decisions, and provisions for judicial assistance.

    On the political relationship, Chen pointed out that there should be no interference in each other's diplomatic affairs.'

    And on avoiding military conflicts, the president said that demilitarized zones should be established, including the removal of combat personnel, equipment and deployed missiles, to create a "buffer zone in terms of time and space." Chen also appealed for a prohibition on the use of military and economic blockades.

    Since 1991, Chen said, the two sides have been dispatching appointed representatives to engage in negotiations. However, he added, the negotiation process has always been sidelined by mainland China's insistence on Taiwan's acceptance of their precondition of the "one China" principle, using this to unilaterally obstruct negotiation channels, thereby putting pressure on Taiwan to "give in." "Through more than a decade of cross-strait exchanges, experience shows that without direct contact and with mainland China's continued refusal to negotiate, it is impossible to meet the requirement of today's intensive exchanges," Chen said. "Furthermore the situation creates countless impediments to furthering the breadth and depth of interaction and restricts the level at which interaction can take place. Therefore, in the future, both sides should make room for compromise and consensus-building, without sacrificing their respective basic positions and principles," the president said.

(By Deborah Kuo)


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