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2004-06-03 12:17:02

    Washington, June 2 (CNA) A senior U.S. State Department official said Wednesday that although Beijing's statement issued May 17 was filled with personal criticism against Taiwan's leadership, there were some elements that people across the Taiwan Strait could focus on to work toward a peaceful resolution to cross-strait differences.

    James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, made the comments in response to questions raised by Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the House Committee on International Relations.

    In the stern statement issued in the days ahead of Republic of China President Chen Shui-bian's inauguration, Beijing warned that it will do whatever it takes to prevent Taiwan independence.

    Kelly said that the presence of Rep. Leach, the chairman of the subcommittee, at President Chen's May 20 inauguration has delivered "an unambiguous signal" to Taiwan and mainland China on the importance of reducing tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

    In response to Rep. Leach's questions regarding Beijing's May 17 statement, Kelly said bluntly that there were some interesting parts in the statement, but added that "it was loaded with all kinds of rhetoric, personally attacking the leadership in Taiwan, that seemed to sweep away some of the other suggestions."

    However, the official also noted that he thinks that there are elements in the statement that Taiwan and mainland China may be able to focus on to build some kind of peaceful resolution.

    Asked whether he supports the idea of building confidence measures between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, Kelly said: "Confidence-building measures would be an excellent idea." "It would be particularly useful because of the steady and ongoing military build-up that the PRC continues through to this day," he said. "I think we're a ways away from the kind of cross-strait negotiations that can bring these forward," he continued, adding that "there are a lot of good idea though that could be put into practice that I've heard from people from both sides of the straits."

    He pointed out that the United States strongly supports both sides of the Taiwan Straits proceeding with unofficial contacts.

    Meanwhile, he also said that the United States does encourage Beijing to engage in dialogue with Taiwan and that the mainland's active military buildup is not welcomed. "At the same time, our position remains unchanged. We do not support Taiwan independence, and we oppose actions by anyone on either side of the Taiwan Strait to change the status quo in a unilateral way," he said.

(By Jay Chen and P.C.tang)


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