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Wed, Sep 22, 1999 - Page 4 News List

World leaders express their condolences

ONE CHINA But the UN has its hands tied and is powerless to give aid unless Beijing requests it


Analysts said yesterday that offers of humanitarian aid might bring a thaw to the current cross-strait atmosphere.

"Jiang's statement was a good approach to modify China's image, especially when it comes after Lee's `two-state' model announced on July 9. Starting from the humanitarian aid basis, at least, it could give some positive upswing to cross-strait ties,'' said Lee Deng-ker (李登科), a cross-strait specialist from Taiwan's National Chengchi University.

"If Lee can react in a friendly manner to Jiang's offer it might be a good opportunity to ease the current cross-strait tensions,'' he added.

"Once the interaction between the cross-strait leaders attracted press attention, it could become a focus in the international community.''

Lin Bih-jaw (林碧炤), the deputy secretary-general of the presidential office, said the government needs more time to analyze the possibility of receiving some form of assistance from Beijing.

"We need to further deliberate all the consequences, so we can't ask President Lee to issue any statement right away,'' Lin said.

"Jiang's declaration was mainly aimed at helping our damage-control. Except to express my appreciation, I am reluctant to make other comments at the moment,'' he said.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) also expressed grave concern over the quake and extended his deep sympathy to the families of those killed in the tragedy.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) said at a press conference earlier yesterday that diplomatic allies in Central America, Africa and Macedonia had demonstrated their concern to Taiwan's local embassies.

French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder also expressed sympathy and support for Taiwan.

Chirac "addressed a message of sincere sympathy and condolences to all the victims of this catastrophe and their families," his spokeswoman Catherine Colonna said.

"France is following the situation closely and is ready to provide the Taiwanese people with the support and emergency aid they may need," she added.

In Berlin, Schroeder expressed his "deep sympathy" and his "deep compassion to the quake victims and their families," government spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye said.

Offers of help were also received from Germany, Switzerland, Britain, Spain, Israel and Thailand.

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