President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) invited Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) to Taiwan during an interview with a US media outlet on Thursday, saying that the invitation did not come with any conditions.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Chen said Hu wouldn't have to acknowledge Taiwan's sovereignty as a condition for accepting his invitation to visit.
"If China has the sincerity, and if President Hu has the desire, I am very willing, on behalf of Taiwan's government and people, to invite him to visit Taiwan," he said. "My invitation to President Hu does not come with any conditions."
It was the third time that Chen has invited a Chinese leader to visit Taiwan or offered to meet with Chinese leaders since 2000, when he proposed a summit with Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin (江澤民).
In 2001, Chen offered to meet with Jiang in Hong Kong. China ignored both overtures.
"I don't see President Hu going to Taiwan," Xu Bodong (徐博東), a policy adviser to China's Taiwan Affairs Office, was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg story. "Only when Taiwan recognizes the `one China' principle can negotiations begin and then President Hu might go to Taiwan."
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman Liu Teh-hsun (劉德勳) said yesterday such a visit would be helpful to the development of cross-strait relations.
If Hu was willing to visit Taiwan, the council would offer all the necessary assistance, he said.
If Hu accepts Chen's invitation, the council would commission Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to contact its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, to facilitate the visit.
Former late SEF chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) adopted this model and met with his counterpart, Wang Daohan (汪道涵), in October 1998 in Beijing, Liu said.
Additional reporting by Jewel Huang
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