Wed, Jan 11, 2006 - Page 1 News List

US `ire' over Chen speech `groundless'

DRAFT OBJECTIONS The Presidential Office and the National Security Council denied a newspaper report that said Washington rejected Chen's address on three occasions

By Chang Yun-ping and Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Presidential Office yesterday blasted a media report that said the US was displeased with President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) New Year's speech and had asked him to change it several times.

The draft of Chen's speech was allegedly rejected by Washington three times prior to its release, particularly in relation to constitutional amendments that Chen said would be completed before 2008, the United Daily News reported yesterday.

The report quoted unnamed sources as saying that Washington was displeased with Chen for delivering the address without changing parts of the draft it considered unsatisfactory.

The report said Washington returned the draft to the Presidential Office three times, each time asking for revisions.

But Chen proceeded with the speech because not enough time had been allowed for making changes, it said.

The report said the US was particularly displeased with Chen's talk of a new constitution, and was concerned this would alter his stance on the "five noes" in which he earlier promised not to change the status of the nation's sovereignty and territory during this term.

National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) attacked the report, saying it was "groundless."

"This is entirely groundless. I'm very sorry to read this kind of fabricated report, which will hurt not only the government but also bilateral relations with the US," Chiou said yesterday at a press conference.

Chiou said the New Year's address was a collaboration between key personnel from the Presidential Office and the National Security Council.

"We revised the draft several times. However, we passed the final draft to the US less than 30 hours before the speech was delivered," he said.

Chiou said the US was paying more attention to both the government's new "active management, effective opening" approach to cross-strait issues as well as the proposed referendum on a new constitution by 2007.

"We would like to stress that the drafting of the new constitution will be by the public [rather than the government]. As for cross-strait issues, we hope the US knows that China has clearly revealed its stance in rejecting Taiwan's government, at least before 2008," he said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) yesterday said communication between Taipei and Washington remains smooth and that Taipei will continue talking to the US to dispel concerns on a new constitution and Chen's cross-strait economic policy.

Lu also offered a clarification on behalf of the nation's envoy to the US, David Lee (李大維), to the effect that the US did not "protest" Chen's New Year speech.

Rebutting local news reports from yesterday, Lu said the representative to the US did not use the word "protest" during his regular meeting with the press in Washington last week.

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