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Taiwan, China exchange views on leaders' summit

ROC Central News Agency

2014/02/14 08:15:59

Taipei, Feb. 14 (CNA) Ranking officials from Taiwan and China have exchanged views for the first time on the possibility of holding a presidential summit although there is no indication as to whether or when such a top-level meeting might happen.

Taiwan's Minister for Mainland Affairs Wang Yu-chi said that, during his chat with his Chinese counterpart Zhang Zhijun in Shanghai late Thursday, the possibility of holding a meeting between President Ma Yin-jeou and China's President Xi Jinping came up.

The two sides reiterated their respective views, Wang told reporters, without elaborating.

Taipei's position is to hold such a meeting in an appropriate setting and under appropriate conditions, an official of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) told reporters covering Wang's visit in Shanghai.

The two leaders should also meet in their appropriate capacities, said the official, who was among the dozens of people attending the gathering at the Fairmont Peace Hotel.

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum's annual top-level meeting would provide an appropriate setting, the official added. The next APEC leaders' summit is scheduled to be held in Beijing in October.

Speaking to reporters separately when leaving the hotel, Zhang said only now that the two sides have taken a step, referring to Wang's historic visit to China, there will be 'a second step and a third step.'

'Hopefully each step will be a steady one,' he said.

The two sides did not dwell on the issue of a top leaders' summit but only mentioned it briefly, said Zhang, adding that they both stated their respective positions.

It is not known which side raised the topic. When asked, Wang and the other MAC official said they 'can't remember.'

Until recently, few in Taiwan thought such a summit would be possible. Because of China's objection, Taiwan's president has been kept away from the annual APEC summit and has had to send an economic official or a retired politician on his behalf.

With relations across the Taiwan Strait getting ever closer, for Ma to go to Beijing in October is no longer inconceivable, according to some observers in Taipei.

An indication of the state of cross-strait ties is Wang's four-day visit, which began Tuesday in Nanjing, where he and Zhang held the first ever formal meeting of the two sides' top officials responsible for the bilateral relationship.

The tea gathering lasting more than two hours took place on the eve of Wang's return to Taiwan. He and Zhang chatted about Shanghai and movies, among other things.

Pictures provided by the MAC indicated they also stepped out to admire the view from the ninth-floor balcony.

(By Eva Feng, Scarlett Chai and Jay Chen)

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