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U.S. upbeat on future cross-strait relations: AIT Chairman

ROC Central News Agency

2008-03-28 23:10:54

    Taipei, March 28 (CNA) Cross-Taiwan Strait and U.S.-Taiwan relations are expected to improve after Ma Ying-jeou takes office as Taiwan's new president, but the U.S. will not mediate talks between Taiwan and China, American Institute in Taipei (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt said Friday. "The focus of Ma and President Chen will be different. With President Ma, we [the U.S. and Taiwan] will be able to devote more time to working together on practical issues of mutual importance, such as trade," Burghardt told local print media on the second day of his three-day visit to Taiwan.

    The chairman said he met Ma earlier in the day and got to know Ma's thoughts on improving cross-Strait relations "to some level of detail." "That does offer hope, " he said, adding that "it's only human nature to think the future will be brighter."

    In response to a question on the U.S. position on the "1992 Consensus, " which Chinese President Hu Jintao described as the basis for future cross-Strait negotiations in a phone conversation with U.S. president George W. Bush Wednesday, Burghardt said, "the U.S. interpretation is not important." "If the two sides can find a formula that works for them and feel comfortable with without betraying their own core interests in coming up with a formula, then what is there for the U.S. to have an opinion about?" he explained.

    The U.S. will be quite positive about efforts by both sides to improve bilateral relationships, and it's something "we can encourage on the sideline," the chairman said.

    But the U.S. has always maintained the position that it would not be a mediator in dialogue between Taiwan and China, he stressed. "It's not a role we should play, " he said. "The Americans are not smart enough to play a useful role in cross-Strait negotiations," he added, quoting a U.S. diplomat.

    The main objective of the three-day trip, Burghardt said, was to congratulate President Chen Shui-bian for presiding over a fair election and the beginning of the transfer of power. "Once again there will be a transfer of power to the other party (and) it's a big deal. It's something you don't see a lot around the world," he said. "It could provide a model for many other countries in the region. Taiwan should be proud of itself," he said.

(By Chris Wang)

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