Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 1 News List

ARATS chairman may visit on Nov. 3

PEACE The MAC said the National Security Bureau and the National Police Agency are coordinating to ensure a safe, dignified and comfortable visit by Chen Yunlin

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan and China’s top cross-strait negotiators may meet on Nov. 3 in Taipei, with the schedule expected to be finalized during a preparatory round of talks in China on Monday, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) announced yesterday.

Chiang told a press conference at the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) office yesterday afternoon that he had proposed Nov. 3 to his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).

If all goes well during the meeting with SEF officials in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, on Monday, China will finalize the date and itinerary, Chiang said.

ITINERARY

The SEF chief said that Chen’s itinerary would be simple: Aside from the official meeting and signing of agreements, Chen will visit some of Taiwan’s tourist attractions.

Chiang and Chen met for the first time in June after cross-strait talks were suspended in 1998. During the June meeting, the two sides signed agreements to launch weekend cross-strait charter flights and ease the cap on Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan.

The agenda of the upcoming Chiang-Chen meeting will include expansion of weekend charter flights, direct aviation routes, charter cargo flights, direct sea transport, postal cooperation and establishing a food safety cooperation mechanism.

MAC Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said yesterday that establishing direct aviation routes would not compromise national security, adding that the Ministry of National Defense fully supports the proposal.

Responding to concerns on how Chen would address President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) during their meeting, Lai said Ma is the president of the Republic of China and no matter what title Chen uses to address Ma, it will not change the fact that Ma is the president of the country.

“The arrangement will be made under the principle of equality and dignity,” she said. “We will follow the arrangements used in the first negotiations held in Beijing.”

When asked by the Taipei Times on former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) suggestion that Taipei reject Chen Yunlin’s visit if Beijing does not support Taiwan having its own interpretation of “one China,” Lai said she did not understand why both sides should refuse to hold talks if the agreements served the public interest.

Saying the resumption of the negotiation channel between the quasi-official SEF and ARATS has the support of the Taiwanese and the international community, Lai said it was important to use the channel to address issues that arise during the course of exchanges between peoples on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

PEACEFUL

“It is bound to help the peaceful and stable development of cross-strait relations,” she said.

Asked to comment on the confrontation between Taiwanese activists and ARATS Vice Chairman Zhang Mingqing (張銘清) in Tainan on Tuesday, Lai said that the administration would make sure that Chen’s visit is “safe, dignified, comfortable.”

“We are confident that he will be well protected,” Lai said, adding that the National Security Bureau and the National Police Agency would cooperate to ensure his safety.

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