Thu, Oct 02, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Chien returns to talk Constitution

DIPLOMACY MOFA refused to detail Eugene Chien's discussions with US officials, but they involved details of President Chen Shui-bian's call for a new Constitution

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) returned to Taiwan yesterday after a week-long visit to the US, during which he explained the reasons behind President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) call for a new Constitution to the US authorities.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Chien went to the US to preside over a routine working meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, with Taiwanese officials stationed in the country.

"Chien told US officials that Taiwan needs to largely amend its current Constitution or enact a new one in order to fit the island's present realities and facilitate its reforms on various fronts," the spokesman said.

But the spokesman denied that Chien's trip to the US deliberately coincided with Chen's call for a new Constitution, which reportedly angered the George W. Bush administration because it was not informed beforehand.

Declining to give details of conversations between the US officials and Chien, the spokesman said communications between the US and Taiwan remain smooth.

"The US authorities have a better understanding of Chen's stance after hearing Chien's explanation," the Central News Agency quoted the spokesman as saying.

The US and the DPP, of which Chen is the chairman, have been discussing Chen's announcement since he made it on Sunday, DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said yesterday.

President Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), also head of the DPP's Department of International Affairs, have been dealing with communications with the US about Chen's remarks, Lee said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesman Alex Tsai (蔡正元) said Chen, fearing his scheduled foreign trip with a stopover in New York at the end of this month might be in jeopardy, is now trying to "put out the fires."

Lee dismissed Tsai's com-ments, saying that Chen's call for a new Constitution and his planned foreign trip were two distinct matters.

The KMT and the People First Party (PFP) have distorted Chen's call for a new Constitution and turned it into a matter of Taiwan's sovereignty dispute with China, Hsiao said.

Calling the opposition parties' interpretation of Chen's call for a new Constitution as a sign of the president's desire for independence "misleading," Hsiao said the new Constitution is only part of the DPP government's vision for the next few years.

She described as "misleading" comments by the opposition parties that portrayed Chen's calls for a new Constitution as a sign of the president's desire for independence.

In her explanations to US officials about Chen's announcement, Hsiao said she urged the officials to look at the president's call for a new Constitution in the context of the government's plan for its deeper reform.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top