Sat, Dec 04, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Chen to give consistent diplomatic message

FIRM STANCE As the president told a visiting US congressman that he will not waver while guiding the nation, other US officials said they trust Chen on his word

CNA , TAIPEI

Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that as a national leader, he will hold a firm stance and not be easily swayed.

Chen made the remarks when he received US Congressman James Langevin at the Presidential Office.

The president said that after he won a second term in the March 20 presidential election, he felt an ever greater sense of responsibility. As Taiwan faces a difficult situation, he said that as the nation's leader, he must consider cross-strait relations, international factors and the different views within Taiwan when dealing with national affairs.

With only one week before the crucial Dec. 11 legislative elections, "our stance is firm, and we will not be swayed by other factors," Chen said.

He said the nation has the determination to safeguard itself and that the Executive Yuan has proposed a special budget to purchase submarines, anti-submarine aircraft and Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile batteries from the US.

He told his visitor that if the pan-green camp that includes his party and its ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, can command a clear majority in the Legislative Yuan, it will facilitate the passing of the arms procurement deal in the legislature.

The president also expressed his appreciation for Langevin's support for Taiwan's bid to be an observer in the World Health Organization, his urging for the US to abide by its commitment to Taiwan's security in a meeting to mark the 25th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act and his opposition to the possible lifting of an arms embargo on China by the EU.

He also apologized to Langevin as first lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍), who originally wanted to accompany him to receive the US congressman, was not well enough to be present, but he thanked Langevin for taking time to see Wu during the first lady's visit to Washington, D.C. in 2002.

Chen noted that Langevin was the first US Congressman to serve while paralyzed and that his wife was also paralyzed from the waist down after being run over by a truck in an assassination attempt 20 years ago. In 1986 she also became the first legislator in a wheelchair.

The president expressed his admiration for Langevin's perseverance, noting that he has been confined to a wheelchair for 24 years.

James Huang, vice secretary-general of the Presidential Office, said later that Chen's long-standing stance is seeking a better economy, undertaking major reforms to make Taiwan a normal and complete country and pursuing a lasting cross-strait peace.

In related news, the US takes Chen at his word that he will not move toward independence, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said recently.

Armitage was quoted as saying during a recent interview with a journalist from Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun daily that US officials had discussions with Taiwan authorities late last month and were told that Chen "made a pledge that he would not break his pledge about going forward with independence."

The deputy secretary of state added that the US stance of being opposed to any unilateral moves to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait has been made "crystal clear," adding that "it's well known to our Taiwanese friends."

Armitage made the remarks in response to the journalist's question about whether Washington is ready to put more pressure on Chen not to pursue a more aggressive policy if the governing Democratic Progressive Party wins a majority in the 225-seat Legislative Yuan in the Dec. 11 elections.

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