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2004-02-12 20:35:26

    Taipei, Feb. 12 (CNA) United States Secretary of State Colin Powell's remarks on Taiwan's referendum show that the United States does not support, nor it is opposed to, the "peace referendum" scheduled for March 20 alongside the presidential election, a government spokesman said Thursday.

    Executive Yuan spokesman Lin Chia-lung, made the remarks in response to Powell's testifying at the House International Relations Committee a day earlier, during which he said that "we don't really see a need" for the referendum, but Taiwan is a democratic place, and if they choose to have a referendum, they can have a referendum.

    Powell also said that he had urged the European Union not to lift an embargo on arms sale to mainland China at a sensitive time when the mainland still has many missiles targeting Taiwan and Taiwan is scheduled to put to a referendum vote the question of increasing its anti-missile capability. "This means that the U.S. does not want to say anything that will affect Taiwan's presidential election," Lin said, adding that this is Washington's long-standing position. "The government thanks the U.S. for respecting Taiwan's democratic development, and not opposing its first nationwide referendum," Lin said. "The government will continue to communicate with international friends on the motive and purpose of promoting the peace referendum," Lin said, explaining that "the referendum will not have anything to do with the nation's status regarding independence versus unification with mainland China and that it will not seek to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait."

    Lin said that the world might have differing views on the referendum, but from Taiwan's point of view, its sovereignty and security are in clear and immediate danger, which is why the government has decided to hold the national referendum according to the recently passed Referendum Law.

    Lin also said that the government appreciates Powell's words on the mainland's missile threat to Taiwan and his opposition to the E.U.'s lifting of the arms embargo, which he said shows that "the U.S. understands that a lifting of the arms embargo on China will have a possible effect on the security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region."

(By Lilian Wu)


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