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ROC Central News Agency

2005-08-17 22:53:22

    Taipei, Aug. 17 (CNA) Taiwan-China talks on cross-Taiwan Strait direct charter links seems likely to happen, judging from the current developments, and the government will try its best to safeguard national interests by making a detailed proposal to the Chinese side, a ranking Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official said Wednesday.

    According to the MAC official, the government will put forward a well-crafted proposal covering comprehensive and concrete details regarding destinations, routes and passenger capacities to help crystallize both the charter cargo and passenger flights across the Strait.

    The MAC has commissioned the Taipei Airlines Association to make necessary arrangements with its Chinese counterpart and bilateral talks should open as soon as possible based on the model set earlier this year when the two sides held talks on Chinese New Year holiday charter flights -- the first direct cross-strait flights that were operated in the form of "non-stop, round trip" by Taiwanese and Chinese airlines, the official said.

    The MAC is determined to gain maximum benefits for the country and the people of Taiwan in the negotiations, he stressed, although he also admitted that talks on regular charter services are much more complicated than the talks on Chinese New Year holiday charter flights. "We will be waiting for a concrete timetable for the talks to be worked out, " he said, expressing the hope that the MAC can offer more to help broaden two-way participation in the negotiations.

    Meanwhile, members of a main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) group told a news conference after returning from a trip to Beijing earlier the same day that China is willing to negotiate direct charter cargo and passenger links with Taiwan for mutual benefits.

    KMT Central Policy Committee Director Tseng Yung-chuan, who led the group to help arrange the talks with Chinese civil aviation officials Tuesday in Beijing, said that China has agreed to hold talks simultaneously on direct charter links for cargo and passenger transport with Taiwan to launch the two services at the same time.

    According to Tseng, the Chinese side has authorized the Cross-Straits Shipping Exchange Association to have technical talks regarding the issue with the Taipei Airlines Association -- a civil group appointed by the government on Taiwan to serve that purpose in the absence of government-to government contacts between Taiwan and China.

    The Chinese side also agreed to increase destinations and broaden the service scope for charter passenger flights and made it clear again that it stands firm on its pledge to allow Taiwan-based airlines to fly over its skies en route to Europe, Tseng said.

    KMT Legislator John Chiang, who advocates "cross-strait tourist charter flights," pointed out that Chen Yunlin, Taiwan Affairs Office director under the Beijing-based State Council, also agreed to talk over the issue in the next round of negotiations.

    Chiang is high optimistic about the prospects of the "cross-strait tourist charter flights, " claiming that business will be brisk as people on the two sides exchange at least 3.5 million visits each year and suggested links from Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Dalian, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Chongqing, Xian, Urumqi and Hainan Island to Taiwan.

    The KMT keenly hopes to help push for regular cargo and passenger charter flights to serve all the Taiwan people, not just businessmen operating in China, party spokesman Chang Jung-kung said.

    The KMT group, which had no authority from the government to get involved in the charter service talks, flew to Beijing Monday and returned early this morning.

(By Flor Wang)



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