Sun, Apr 17, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Chen Shui-bian, Lien Chan could talk on the telephone

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) might be willing to communicate with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on the telephone prior to Lien's upcoming trip to China, the KMT confirmed yesterday, while Lien added that he will report the details of his trip as soon as they are settled.

At the KMT's central headquarters yesterday, party Secretary-General Lin Feng-cheng (林豐正) elaborated on a press statement issued by the KMT late Friday night, saying that Presidential Office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun had called Lin Friday afternoon. Lin suggested that prior to a Chen-Lien telephone call, he hoped to hold a meeting between himself and Yu. In response to the call, the statement said that Lien had expressed that he was not was not at all against communicating with Chen on the phone.

A press release issued by the Presidential Office yesterday confirmed the KMT's statement and added that Yu had originally called to tell Lin to convey Chen's willingness to personally call Lien before the trip.

"[Since] President Chen has such expectations, we will not let him down," Lin said yesterday morning.

Lin also said that while he would prefer to meet with Yu after his trip to China next week, he would also be open to the possibility of meeting earlier.

Lin will be heading to Beijing next week to discuss the final details of Lien's tour of China with China's Taiwan Affairs Office.

The news about the phone call came as a positive note in the ongoing conflict between the administration and the KMT over Lien's trip to China. Given that the Lien trip is being made in response to an invitation extended by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) last month, the administration has alternately urged the KMT to discuss the matter with it and looked into the legality of the ten proposals produced during KMT's Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kun's (江丙坤) recent visit to China. The KMT has repeatedly stated that it does not need the government's blessing to visit China.

Despite the friendly move yesterday, conflict between the administration and the KMT was apparent.

Speaking at the KMT's Central Advisory Council (CAC) meeting yesterday, Lien said that recent comments by Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) criticizing him for the trip were unfair.

Saying that Lu had been to China in 1990 to visit her family's ancestral home, Lien said that viewing Lu's 1990 trip as permissable and his trip as collaboration with the CCP was unfair. In comparison, Lien said, he will be going for only a few days and his schedule will be made public, unlike Lu, who was in China for 26 days on a private visit.

Lien also said that he will report the details of his trip to the public once the details are settled by Lin. While Lin will be heading to China next week, Lien headed to Singapore late yesterday to speak at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy with Chiang. Lien is expected to return today.

Another focus of media attention yesterday were reports by the Chinese-language newspapers United Daily News and China Times that during Lien's trip, Lien and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) might sign an agreement officially ending the war between the KMT and the CCP or that China might agree to remove the missiles it has aimed at Taiwan.

Speaking at KMT headquarters yesterday, Lin denied that the KMT had plans to sign such an agreement with the CCP.

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