Mon, Nov 22, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Lee Yuan-tseh `chit-chats' with Bush

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN SANTIAGO, CHILE

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) special envoy to APEC chatted with US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the first day of the APEC leaders' summit Saturday, while looking forward to having the opportunity to talk with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) yesterday on the final day of the event.

"When I was talking with Putin, Bush patted my shoulder from behind and told Putin that I'm a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry," Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) said. "I congratulated Bush for winning his second term and then he introduced me to his wife, Laura."

Lee made the remark on Saturday night during a press conference held after the dinner banquet with 21 economy leaders and members of the APEC Business Advisory Council at the Mapocho Culture Center.

Lee has said that he plans to reiterate the recent string of goodwill gestures extended by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) when he meets Hu. If Hu should reiterate the "one China" policy, Lee said that he would try to explain to him that both sides must work towards a peaceful future.

"I've never thought that the cross-strait issue is that serious a problem," he said. "Both sides must make efforts to iron out differences and untangle misunderstandings. There's still room for cooperation and development for both sides."

Lee, however, said that both sides have to work together to solve the problem and that it takes a tremendous amount of work and patience to reach the ultimate goal.

While China issued a fresh round of criticism against Chen's proposal to write a new constitution by 2006, Lee dismissed Beijing's argument that the move will lead to instability.

"The proposal has nothing to do with Taiwan's independence," he said. "President Chen has made it clear that it's amending the constitution not enacting a new constitution and that the constitutional amendment would not touch on such issues as the national flag and moniker."

In addition to Bush and Putin, Lee also chatted with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍), who said he felt apprehensive about Taiwan's future, especially after the December legislative elections.

"I told him not to worry because we'll exert ourselves to seek peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

His chin-wagging with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was about a technology forum which both attended before the APEC meeting.

"I remember when I met him two years ago in Los Cabos, Mexico, we talked about the tricks he used to pick up women when he was young," he said.

Lee also revealed that many leaders were talking about the recent intrusion of a Chinese nuclear submarine into Japanese waters and agreed that it was important that member economies share military intelligence. Chen revealed that Taiwan gave the Japanese government information about the sub.

Lee also talked with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark about the Maori.

"She was kind of surprised when I told her that we're related," he said. "I told her that studies show that the mother of the Maori was related to Taiwan's Atayal Aboriginal tribe, and the father came from Papua New Guinea."

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun complimented Lee on Taiwan's economic achievements over the years made by small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Lee, who delivered a 4-minute speech on the control of infectious diseases at a round-table discussion, described Saturday's chitchat as casual, saying nobody discussed politics.

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