Tue, Mar 01, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Clinton praises Taiwan's leaders during brief visit

HIGH PRAISE The former US president flattered Chen Shui-bian and Lien Chan and signed copies of his book at Taipei 101 during his whirlwind visit

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former US president Bill Clinton met with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) twice during his brief stay Sunday evening and yesterday in Taipei, and signed his autobiography My Life for 500 readers at the Taipei 101 Mall yesterday.

Chen, who read through My Life before meeting with its author, hosted a dinner banquet for Clinton at the Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Sunday night and arranged a one-hour talk with Clinton at the Taipei Guest House yesterday morning.

Chen gave Clinton a saxophone as a gift at the Sunday banquet. Officials attending the dinner said both men shared their political experiences and that Clinton lauded Chen's courage to seek inter-party cooperation.

"President Chen and Clinton had a great time Sunday night, but they both felt the meeting was too short. So they decided to meet again at the Taipei Guest House Monday morning," Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳) told reporters.

Huang noted that details of the meeting between Chen and Clinton would not be disclosed. Clinton also met with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday afternoon.

"I found [Chen and Lien] both to be highly intelligent, completely patriotic, devoted to the interests of the people of Taiwan, and not so far apart on some issues as I thought they might be," Clinton said yesterday during an interview with the ETTV channel.

Clinton noted that the Taiwanese people elected Chen by a narrow majority and gave the opposition parties a narrow majority in the legislature.

"What they are saying is that we put you in the same boat. We want you to row and move forward and you have to compromise," he said.

Clinton, who mentioned how the world might move from interdependence to integration in his speech in Taipei on Sunday, said the relationship between China and Taiwan has a lot of similarities to the relationship between blacks and whites in the little town he grew up.

"We are all interdependent. We could not escape each other. You [Taiwan and China] should build on the positive contacts.

Clinton left for Singapore at 5pm yesterday.

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