PRESIDENT WILLING TO TALK WITH CHINA'S LEADER
Central News Agency
Taipei, June 2 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian said Thursday he is willing to talk with Chinese President Hu Jintao but not in June or July as had been claimed by some local media.
Chatting with a group of lawmakers from his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at a tea party, the president was quoted as saying that he has not forsaken the hope of peace talks with China and would like to meet with Hu if the talks are held somewhere other than Taiwan or China and with no other prerequisites.
Chen was quoted as telling the lawmakers that Taiwan will be half-lost if he goes to China for talks but will get a free hand in negotiating with China if they take place elsewhere.
He defended his February meeting with James Soong, chairman of the opposition People First Party, claiming that it paved the way for reconciliation between the ruling DPP and the opposition at the Legislative Yuan. "There is nothing wrong with contacting the opposition, as long as we stand firmly by our advocacy of Taiwan's sovereignty." Chen was quoted as saying.
He reiterated his prediction that the domestic political landscape will change dramatically after mid-July, when a new leader takes the reins of the main opposition Kuomintang and the constitutional amendments crafted to reshape the legislature have been approved by the National Assembly.
Opposition lawmakers will stop their unreasonable filibustering at the Legislative Yuan and the ties between the executive and legislative branches will become more stable, the president forecast.
He also defended his announcement last week of tax hikes, which has caused an outcry among taxpayers, saying it is part of his administration's efforts to revamp the tax system.
(By Maubo Chang)
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