Mon, Feb 06, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Communication with the US is on track: official

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Taiwan will do its best to avoid misunderstandings and continue communicating with Washington on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) Lunar New Year proposal to abolish the National Unification Council, Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山) said yesterday.

The president yesterday appeared in the square before the Presidential Office to open a cultural exhibition and present red envelopes to performers. However, he refused to answer the media's questions on the state of the nation's relationship with the US.

Later, Mark Chen dismissed a report in the Chinese-language China Times that cited the Nelson Report, a private Washington-based newsletter dealing with Asia, as saying that US President George W. Bush was furious at Chen Shui-bian's proposals and that the government had not been told of any discontent on the part of the US.

"If the discontent does exist, Taiwan will nevertheless continue to communicate with the US," Mark Chen told reporters.

He added that the president would make a public statement on the matter if necessary.

"Taiwan and the US have different stances and interests. Taiwan, of course, has its own thinking. We've taken advantage of all possible channels to communicate with [Washington] to avoid misunderstandings," he said.

Mark Chen said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had communicated with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), while Senior Presidential Adviser Wu Li-pei (吳澧培) and National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Parris Chang (張旭成) had attended the annual US National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

"I believe that the relationship ... remains intact and the US has been a very good friend to Taiwan," Mark Chen said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) yesterday also rebutted the China Times report.

"We don't think the Nelson Report quotes reliable sources and do not believe that President Bush was angry," he said.

"It might not be easy for some American decision-makers to fully understand the president's Lunar New Year proposals because of their lack of deep understanding of Taiwan's society and because the cross-strait relationship changes rapidly," he said.

Huang said that formal diplomatic channels are being used to exchange opinions, and that his contact with AIT officials on two occasions in the past days was based on honesty and reason.

"We don't think bilateral relations have reached a crisis," he said.

Huang said the president had tried to express his concerns about cross-strait relations, which had changed dramatically since China passed the "Anti-Secession" Law in March last year.

Local diplomatic sources said that Taiwan was focusing on solving problems with the US first and was not concerned about a meeting between Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), who plans to visit the US in April.

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