Mon, May 15, 2000 - Page 1 News List

US vows to stay on sidelines of cross-strait talks

MIDDLEMEN Reports suggesting that the US was set to play the role of mediator in future cross-strait discussions have been denied by Washington

STAFF WRITER WITH REUTERS

The US said on Saturday it did not want a direct mediation role in the dispute between China and Taiwan, preferring the two sides to talk directly to each other instead.

Questions about a possible US mediation role in the long-running China-Taiwan confrontation arose from a Washington Post report that said both sides had asked the US to intervene.

"We are not playing a role as a mediator, and we have not and do not seek to play that role," said P.J. Crowley, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

He said the US was continuing to encourage China and Taiwan to reestablish their dialogue across the Taiwan Strait. "We want to see that come about," he said.

Tsai Ying-wen (蔡英文), the incoming chairperson of the Mainland Affairs Council, on Friday urged the US to help facilitate the resumption of talks across the Taiwan Strait.

The Washington Post said Chinese officials had also asked Washington to play a helpful role.

US officials said the US was sticking to its "one China" policy calling for a peaceful reunification of China and Taiwan.

"We have a `one China' policy and at the heart of that policy is[that] there needs to be a cross-strait dialogue so that Taiwan and the PRC [Peoples Republic of China] can resolve their differences peacefully and we have encouraged, all along, both sides to resume a cross-strait dialogue," Crowley said.

The requests for US help represent a challenge for Washington which, since 1982, has vowed not to mediate between the two sides because of fears that failed mediation could ruin US relations with Taipei, which maintains a powerful lobby in Washington, or Beijing, one of the world's nuclear powers.

Speaking with incoming members of the new government yesterday, Vice President-elect Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) asked the US and other countries to give Taiwan more support.

"The US must not push us to the negotiating table while it stays behind the curtain," Lu said.

Lu suggested that before Clinton steps down, Taiwan, China and the US hold a three-way negotiation in the White House--a step that would internationalize the Taiwan question.

Tien Hung-mao, the foreign minister-designate who favored non-official arrangements to thaw the icy relations, also appealed to Washington.

"We hope the US could lend a hand when efforts over cross-strait dialogues are stalled," Tien said.

US officials said each side has been seeking information about the other side through contacts with American diplomats since the Taiwan election.

"In light of the Taiwan election, both sides are trying to assess the implications of this and are asking questions, including asking questions of us, but that doesn't constitute an invitation for us to play a mediation role," said a senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Ultimately there is no substitute for having the two of them sit down together. If we play a messenger for one side or the other that doesn't constitute a cross-strait dialogue," the official said.

The US broke relations with Taiwan in 1979 when it renewed relations with China.

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