Sun, Nov 20, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Lin met with 17 leaders at APEC forum

DIPLOMATIC BUSINESS Taiwan's representative said the meetings included both formal discussions and informal talks during breaks in the summit sessions

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN BUSAN,

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun announces the ``Busan Declaration'' as leaders of the APEC forum listen in the background in Busan yesterday. Listening, from left, are US President George W. Bush, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Lin Hsin-yi, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

PHOTO: AP

Taiwan made a diplomatic breakthrough as Lin Hsin-yi (林信義), President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) representative to the 13th APEC summit, concluded bilateral meetings with leaders from 17 countries, including Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), sources in the delegation said.

The number of one-on-one meetings is significant, given that there are 20 other members in the group besides Taiwan.

During a press conference yesterday, Lin said he had met with "some" leaders face-to-face during the two-day APEC summit.

The meetings included formal ones held in private meeting rooms that lasted from 20 to 50 minutes, and informal ones during breaks in the main summit that lasted from five to 10 minutes.

The one with Hu was held privately, said the source, who did not disclose the content of the talks.

Lin said Hu was very friendly and they had a good conversation during the two-day summit.

"I ... spoke to President Hu," he said. "He is a very friendly and warm person. We spoke with much goodwill toward each other."

One major bilateral meeting was with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and covered a wide range of issues, such as how complementary Taiwan and Japan are in the information technology industry, as well as how much the measure granting Taiwanese visitors visa-free treatment had improved travel to Japan, Lin said.

"With sufficient time, I delivered almost all the messages from Taiwan to other leaders," Lin said in response to a question of whether he had completed the tasks entrusted to him by President Chen.

"We deepened understanding [of Taiwan] to other economies and exchanged views on many issues," he said.

Lin said he also had a chance to express appreciation to US President George W. Bush over his endorsement of Taiwan's democracy in a speech the US leader made in Kyoto, Japan, last Wednesday.

"I expressed my gratitude to him for his affirmation of democracy and freedom in Taiwan," Lin said. "I really believe this is something that warms the hearts of the Taiwanese people."

Bush would like to stabilize cross-strait relations and maintain peace and prosperity between the two sides, so he would encourage the two sides to hold dialogues, Lin said.

In a photo session yesterday, the 21 leaders posed in traditional Korean durumagi overcoats near Nurimaru APEC House where they held the last day of the summit.

Seven of the leaders, including Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, chose dark blue from a selection of five colors for the men and two for women.

Lin, Hu and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) chose reddish-brown coats.

Lin said the color selection was a coincidence, but that the color preference showed that Asians share the same taste due to the common language, culture and values among the three countries.

"It was quite by happenstance, quite by accident that we chose the same color," Lin said at a news conference after the photo. "The day when I was supposed to choose the colors, I favored the rust color immediately."

He also said Koizumi shared a fashion insight with Bush: "Wow, there are two pockets, we can put stuff in them."

Although Lin has said several times that he hopes Chen can participate in next year's summit in Vietnam, he said he did not touch on the issue with Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong.

Taiwan has become the largest foreign investor in Vietnam with investment of more than US$10 billion, and bilateral relations have improved in recent years, especially after Taiwan donated doses of Tamiflu to help stop the spread of avian flu in Vietnam.

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