Mon, May 02, 2005 - Page 3 News List

PFP confirms Chen-Soong telephone call

COOPERATION The party said the two had spoken, but would not comment on whether the president had asked the PFP chairman to take a message to Beijing

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

People First Party (PFP) spokesman Hsieh Kung-pin (謝公秉) yesterday confirmed that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) had communicated on the phone but refused to confirm or deny Chen's remarks saying that he asked Soong to relay a message to Chinese leaders during Soong's upcoming tour of China.

During Chen's telephone call with Soong, Hsieh said at a press conference, Soong emphasized multiple times his commitment to the 10-point consensus formulated between him and Chen in February. He added that his commitment to those points would not change or be swayed by the political situation within the nation.

Respect

Hsieh also refused to confirm or deny Chen's remarks that there had been a second, secret Chen-Soong meeting, saying only that the PFP understands and respects Chen's comments.

During their high-profile meeting in February, Chen and Soong formulated a 10-point agreement on cross-strait relations, national defense and ethnic relations that confirmed their mutual support for the institution of the Republic of China.

Since the meeting with Chen, Soong and the PFP have repeatedly referred to the 10-point consensus as the underlying principle on which their stance on cross-strait relations is based, leading to speculation that the relationship between the administration and the nation's third-largest party is friendlier than appearances might suggest.

Yesterday however, the PFP stressed that Soong is heading to China on Thursday only in his capacity as PFP chairman and does not represent the government.

"Our position is clear. We do not represent the [Taiwanese] authorities," Hsieh said.

At the press conference, Hsieh also emphasized that both Soong and the PFP have long supported the so-called "1992 consensus" and that that support will not change.

Given that both Chen and Soong were expressing mutual support for each other's journeys, Hsieh said, Saturday's telephone was not recorded and there was also no purpose in keeping the phone call secret.

Chen left on a trip to visit South Pacific allies on Sunday.

Talks with Beijing

PFP lawmaker Lee Yung-ping (李永萍) meanwhile said yesterday that Soong will discuss concrete details of a cooperative structure under which Taiwan and China can step up bilateral exchanges when he meets Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

Lee, also a caucus whip, said Soong and Hu will go into concrete details and set up a cooperation structure to help bolster interaction between Taiwan and China on a wide range of issues when the two meet early this month in Beijing.

Among the many issues on the table will be the question of how China can help Taiwan enter the World Health Organization, she said, adding that the two men will not sign any accord or issue any press communique following their meeting.

The consensus reached between Soong and Hu will be recorded in written form and submitted to the government for reference, she said.

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