Thu, Oct 28, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Paal asked to explain US policy

SLIP OF THE TONGUE?The de facto US ambassador to Taiwan was summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify Powell's comments about 'peaceful reunification'

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Foreign Affairs Minister Mark Chen talks to reporters yesterday after a meeting with the director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Douglas Paal.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

US Secretary of State Colin Powell's denial of Taiwan's sovereign status and vision for future cross-strait development are "unacceptable," Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) said yesterday.

Confounded by Powell's comments in China that Taiwan and China should move toward a peaceful unification and that Taiwan "does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation," Chen called in Director of the American Institute in Taiwan Douglas Paal seeking clarification.

Meeting with Chen at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at 11am, Paal reassured the minister that the US' Taiwan policy had not changed.

The State Department explained that the US wishes to see Taiwan and China move toward a peaceful "resolution" rather than "reunification," Chen told reporters after meeting with Paal.

It has been Washington's policy to encourage both sides to seek a peaceful resolution, Chen said. However, he was unable to confirm whether Powell's "reunification" comment was a misstatement or a slip of the tongue.

Paal told Chen that Powell displayed his goodwill toward Taiwan in Beijing by urging the Chinese leaders to be more accommodating towards Taiwan's efforts to join the World Health Organization and function better in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.

Powell also discussed with the Chinese leaders the US' arms sales to Taiwan, and prodded them to respond to President Chen Shui-bain's (陳水扁) call for dialogue, Paal noted.

Taiwan's diplomats in Washington have been communicating with US officials after hearing Powell's remarks made during his interviews with CNN International and Phoenix TV.

"The US has, on public and private occasions, reassured us that its Taiwan policy has not changed," Mark Chen said.

State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli, at a daily press briefing on Monday, said one element of the US' "one China" policy has been to favor a peaceful resolution of the cross-strait issue through dialogue.

"Mr. Ereli also said the resolution needs to be `acceptable to both sides,'" Mark Chen said.

"We have enjoyed a long-term friendship with the US, and can understand Washington's clarification," the minister said.

"However, we have to solemnly point out that Taiwan is a sovereign country. The Taiwanese people have come closer to such understanding through the country's democratization process," he said.

Powell's comments in Beijing undervalued Taiwan's active participation in international affairs and rights to exercise its intact sovereignty, said Mark Chen.

"His remarks damaged Taiwan's democracy and hurt our status as a state. We have to express our serious concerns. The US should respect our people's will and take it into account when forming its Taiwan policy," the minister said.

"We express deep regret. The Republic of China is a sovereign country. No other countries can deny our sovereignty," he said.

"We hope Washington can restate its `Six Assurances' to Taiwan to restore the Taiwanese people's faith in the US," he said.

The "Six Assurances" were made under then president Ronald Reagan's administration in 1982.

One of the pledges said the US "would not alter its position about the sovereignty of Taiwan which is that the question is one to be decided peacefully by the Chinese themselves, and would not pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China."

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