Tue, Feb 22, 2005 - Page 1 News List

People First Party confirms details of upcoming meeting

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

A summit between President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) will take place on Thursday at the Taipei Guest House, the PFP said yesterday, adding that the two will talk about cross-strait relations, ethnic reconcilation and national defense.

"At 3pm [yesterday], Presidential Office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun called our party's secretary-general, Chin Chin-sheng (秦金生), to discuss times when President Chen and Chairman Soong should meet. Out of all the suitable times, they decided that the meeting will take place at 10:30am Thursday morning," PFP Spokesman Hsieh Kung-pin (謝公秉) said at the party's headquarters yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday's announcement put speculation about the meeting's timing to rest, as the PFP had originally said the meeting might be postponed until March.

During a Saturday meeting between Yu and Chin, the negotiators agreed on the summit's topics and location, but left the date open due to the PFP's "concerns" about the unfolding scandal surrounding chipmaker UMC.

Speaking in response to questions about the PFP's change of heart regarding the meeting, Hsieh was deliberately vague, saying only that Chen and Soong will talk about the UMC scandal at the meeting.

"At the [Yu-Chin meeting], our party told the administration our concerns about the UMC affair. The UMC affair is not an isolated case; it is representive of the difficulties in cross-strait industrial policy. We hope that through this meeting, we will be able to see practical developments," Hsieh said yesterday.

While Thursday's meeting will be closed-door, Hsieh said, the entire Chen-Soong summit will be recorded.

"At the end of the meeting, there will be concrete progress made on the three issues, and there will be a black-and-white record of the meeting," Hsieh said, while declining to elaborate on what the PFP would consider "progress."

"We hope that this meeting will be able to help resolve the standoff between the governing and opposition parties," Hsieh said yesterday.

When questioned about the meeting's possible impact on interactions between the PFP and its erstwhile ally, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Hsieh said yesterday that the PFP will most likely send representatives to the KMT to talk about the meeting before it takes place on Thursday.

The Presidential Office, in a statement issued yesterday afternoon, confirmed Thursday's meeting between the president and the PFP chairman.

"On the basis of wanting to render service for the greater good of Taiwan's people, and for the sake of the national interest, both sides see the need to arrange the meeting as soon as possible," the statement from the Presidential Office said.

Yu earlier noted that, to ensure the openness and transparency of the Chen-Soong meeting, he and Chin, as well as Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳) and PFP director of policy research Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) would also be present at that meeting.

additional reporting by Huang Tai-lin

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