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Sat, Feb 10, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Ukrainian issues mediation offer

CROSS-STRAIT TIES Former president Leonid Kravchuk said that, as he is neither Chinese nor American, he could play a role as mediator between Taipei and Beijing


Visiting former Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk expressed his willingness to work as a "mediator" between Taipei and Beijing to help break the cross-strait deadlock, sources said yesterday.

"He was concerned about the progress on cross-strait peace talks, and had an in-depth discussion with Lin Chong-pin [林中斌], vice chairman of Mainland Affairs Council [MAC], during their meeting on Thursday," an insider said.

"He expressed his willingness to act as a mediator. He said that since China distrusts ethnic Chinese and Americans, he considered himself suitable to play such a role," the source added.

But Kravchuk kept a low-profile yesterday as he met with several high-ranking officials including President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維), Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂), as well as Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄).

Chen told Leonid Kravchuk that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was a "great revelation" for Taiwan.

The comment was the closest Chen has come in recent weeks to publicly discussing the battle over whether the country should finish building the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四).

Chen also told Kravchuk that Taiwan and Ukraine should set up representative offices on a reciprocal basis to help enhance exchanges between the two countries, according to a press release from the Presidential Office.

The press release also quoted Kravchuk as saying that despite pressure from Beijing, Taiwan and Ukraine should work out ways to set up information centers on a reciprocal basis to strengthen further cooperation.

The trade volume between Ukraine and Taiwan reached a total of US$367 million as of last year, with Ukraine enjoying a US$269 million trade surplus with Taiwan, according to the statement.

Kravchuk was invited by the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industries Program Office under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) to attend a related seminar scheduled to take place in Taipei next Monday. Kravchuk was scheduled to deliver an opening speech at the seminar on "what biotechnology means to the future of humanity," according to the seminar schedule.

"He [Kravchuk] has expressed his willingness to visit Taiwan through some channels, so our office issued the invitation to him," a source in the MOEA office said.

When asked his main purpose of the visit, the source in the MOEA said: "He's here for economic exchanges."

Currently acting as majority leader of the parliament, Kravchuk has also in recent years been involved in the operation of the Phage Biotechnology Corporation.

The firm will give a company profile presentation at the international seminar, which is aimed at assisting local investors in exploring business opportunities in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

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