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No timetable for peace pact referendum: premier

ROC Central News Agency

2011/10/21 16:38:54

By Nancy Liu

Taipei, Oct. 21 (CNA) Premier Wu Den-yih said Friday there is no timetable for initiating a referendum on a possible peace pact with China, one day after President Ma Ying-jeou said the pursuit of such a pact would have to be backed by a national referendum.

Wu also described as "impossible" the possibility of initiating such a referendum to be held in conjunction with the Jan. 14, 2012 presidential election, when asked about it by ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Lai Shih-bao at a legislative session.

The peace pact issue has stirred controversy since the president announced Monday that his government would "cautiously consider" whether Taiwan should sign such a pact within the next 10 years.

Opposition figures immediately accused Ma of trying to push through unification with China within a set timetable, but Wu rejected the criticism.

"We might not reach an agreement in 10 years, but we must face the issue....No one can set a timetable for this," Wu said, adding that several pre-conditions had to be met before further discussion is possible.

Wu listed mutual trust and good will from both sides and a high level of support domestically as important indicators in determining whether the time was right for a peace accord.

Aside from the timetable for a potential deal, the premier was also bombarded with questions from legislators across party lines on the need for such a pact and related technical issues.

Asked how the government would gauge "strong public backing," Wu said the results of a referendum and polls could both reflect public opinion, and he reiterated that the government would not venture into a peace deal without support from the majority of the population.

The idea of signing a peace treaty is not new and a similar framework had been proposed by previous presidents, by Lee Teng-hui in 1996 and Chen Shui-bian in 2007, Wu said.

Meanwhile, the premier dismissed critics' concerns that Ma's consideration of a peace pact would sacrifice Taiwan's sovereignty, change the status quo with China, and jeopardize the nation's democracy and that setting a timetable would put Taiwan at a disadvantage.

"All of these (concerns) will not exist," he said.

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