Sun, May 01, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Washington tells China to talk to Chen

TOEING THE LINE US government officials are now in agreement regarding Lien Chan's meeting with the Chinese president, saying that Beijing must speak to Chen

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The US State Department has fallen into line with the White House in urging China to talk directly with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to settle cross-strait issues peacefully, according to statements made by US officials.

Meanwhile, the White House again expressed the hope that the meeting between Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) will lead to dialogue between Beijing and Chen's "duly elected" government.

"We urge Beijing to reach out to President Chen and his Cabinet," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Friday.

"Any long-term solution can only be found if Beijing negotiates with the duly elected leadership in Taiwan," he said in response to a question about the department's reaction to the Lien-Hu meeting.

The language echoes that used by White House Spokesman Scott McClellan on Wednesday.

Previously, the department's spokesmen had welcomed and said it supported the visits to China by Lien and other members of the pan-blue alliance, but did not mention Chen or urge China to talk with him.

Following Wednesday's statement by McClellan, the department has apparently added the call for talks with Chen to its official litany on cross-strait dialogue. McClellan, meanwhile, Friday repeated his comments made on Wednesday.

"We believe that it's most important that there be dialogue between Chinese leaders and the elected representatives of the government of Taiwan," he told his daily press briefing.

"And so we would hope that this would be a sign that China will continue to move forward on a dialogue with President Chen and members of his government, which is the duly elected government in Taiwan," he said.

He also seemed to support the Lien visit, saying, "We welcome dialogue between China and leaders in Taiwan."

Asked about Beijing's refusal so far to talk with Chen, McClellan added, "we'll continue working with the parties in the region and continue to encourage them to engage in dialogue to promote peace and stability in the region."

For his part, Ereli declined repeatedly to comment on the specific points raised in the Lien-Hu meeting, saying only that the State Department sees Lien's trip in the "broad context" that "dialogue is in the interests of both sides to achieve a peaceful resolution of their differences in a manner that is acceptable to both."

He also declined to get drawn into a discussion of Lien's motives in his trip, and whether Lien's intention was to advance peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues or to divide Taiwan politically and undercut Chen.

Asked directly whether China's reaching out to the Taiwan opposition is a matter of concern for Washington, Ereli said:

"It's a process that we can support, it's a process that we can encourage, and it's a process that we can try to help the sides work toward."

"But it clearly requires a will and initiative and steps that they take themselves. It is not something that we can control or force. But we can certainly lend our influence and our voice to help move things in that direction, which we are doing," he said.

Ereli dodged a question of whether Washington supports the resumption of cross-strait talks on the basis of the "1992 consensus," which Hu and Lien agreed should be the case.

In Taipei, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) urged the Chinese government to take a pragmatic approach in dealing with the Taiwanese government.

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