Sat, Feb 19, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Politics haunt Chen-Soong meet

SUMMIT The Chen administration says it wants to start a new era of cooperation among political parties, but despite a DPP-PFP talk yesterday, it was politics as usual

By Caroline Hong and Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Presidential Office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun, second right, and People First Party (PFP) Secretary-General Chin Chin-sheng, second left, accompanied by some other officials, yesterday shake hands prior to discussing the proposed Chen-Soong meeting at the Taipei Guest House.

PHOTO: CNA

Representatives from the Presidential Office and the People First Party (PFP) agreed yesterday to delay a Feb. 28 summit between President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) until March, while deciding that in the upcoming meeting, the two leaders will discuss cross-strait relations, ethnic harmony and national defense at the Taipei Guest House.

Presidential Office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun met with PFP Secretary-General Chin Chin-sheng (秦金生) at the Taipei Guest House yesterday morning to hammer out the date, venue, format and agenda for a meeting between Chen and Soong, in a continuation of the administration's efforts to woo opposition parties.

Although it was originally expected that Chen and Soong would meet on or before Feb. 28, Yu and Chin announced in a joint press conference after their meeting that, while the Chen-Soong summit would a certainty, it was unlikely that the meeting would take place before the end of the month.

After the meeting with Yu, Chin said only that the political climate was unsuitable for a Chen-Soong meeting at the moment, because of the focus being placed on the unfolding UMC scandal.

PFP caucus whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) went even further, saying that not only should the Chen-Soong summit be delayed, but that yesterday morning's meeting between Yu and Chin should have been canceled.

In contrast however, Yu said yesterday that the UMC affair would have no effect on the anticipated meeting between Chen and Soong.

"The judicial system is independent of the administration. Politics should stick to politics, industry to industry and justice to justice," Yu said yesterday, adding that it need not impact the timing of the Chen-Soong meet.

However, during the meeting yesterday, both Yu and Chin agreed that cross-strait peace, defense and security and ethnic reconciliation would be the three main issues on the agenda for the planned meeting between Chen and Soong.

When questioned whether both he and Chin had, during their one and a half hour meeting, struck any consensus with regard to the three topics, Yu said that they reached the decision about the topics without going into details of their content.

"After all, that is the very reason that we are working on having the Chen-Soong meeting," Yu said. "If there was already a consensuses on these [three topics,] then there would be no need for the Chen-Soong meeting."

Saying that aides would deliberate on these topics to determine what content would be discussed during the Chen-Soong meeting, Yu added that "similarities could be sought amid the differences, and hence the highest common denominator could be reached" on the issues.

For his part, Chin said it was the hope that when Chen and Soong met and discussed the issues, "a consensus could be reached that best represents the public's views, and that issues concerning national identity and otehr relevant matters could be further clarified."

As far as a format for the planned Chen-Soong summit is concerned, Yu said the style of which would be held in a similar manner as that of the meeting between the two four years ago.

With that said, Yu noted that the first summit between Chen and Soong four years ago was not as unsuccessful as some other otherwise thought.

"If it weren't for the first Chen-Soong meeting in 2000, then there would be no establishment of the Economic Development Advisory Conference (經發會) and the subsequent passage of 59 bills as a result," Yu said.

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