Sun, Jun 05, 2005 - Page 3 News List

President `looks forward' to talks

PRESUMPTUOUS?Anticipating that talks will one day take place, Chen is looking forward to a meeting with the Chinese president, the secretary-general said

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) looks forward to dialogue and consultations between the leaders from either side of the Taiwan Strait, a senior government official said yesterday.

Referring to when US President George W. Bush talked with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) on May 5, and urged him to talk with President Chen directly, Presidential Office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun said Chen's willingness to hold talks with Hu echoed Bush's "hopes that [cross-strait] dialogue and negotiation can soon be carried out in the interests of cross-strait reconciliation."

Yu made the remarks yesterday in response to queries by the media about Chen's statements a day earlier.

While meeting with New York Times chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. on Friday, Chen said he is willing to hold peace talks with his Chinese counterpart in a third country and if there was no precondition for such talks.

The third country would preferably be the US, Chen said, adding that it "probably is the best bridge and platform" for such a meeting. Chen also said this year and next year as "windows of opportunity" in cross-strait relations, during his meeting with the Times chairman.

Asked whether the US will help facilitate cross-strait dialogue, Yu said yesterday Taiwan has not discussed the matter with the US.

He also said that since Chen assumed the presidency in 2000, the president has repeatedly made goodwill gestures toward Beijing, hoping for cross-strait reconciliation and peace, Yu said, adding, "it is regrettable that Beijing has failed to seize the opportunity over the past five years and Taiwan has yet to see China willing to come to the negotiating table."

"As of now, we have yet to see a willingness from China to come to the negotiating table to begin a dialogue," Yu said.

"Freedom, democracy and human rights are the universal values," the Presidential Office secretary-general also said. "China could be a threat to world peace if it rises as an irrational and undemocratic country."

"Only when China rises peacefully and democratically can world peace be achieved." Yu said. "Therefore, Taiwan hopes China will push ahead with democratic reform and attach importance to regional and global peace."

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), at a separate event yesterday, said she hopes the proposed Chen-Hu meeting in a third country can be actualized.

"If a meeting takes place, it would bring the first rays of sunshine to the cross-strait situation," Lu said.

The vice president expressed support for such a meeting a day earlier, saying that the annual APEC leaders' summit to be held this November in South Korea would be a good opportunity for Chen to meet with Hu on the sidelines of the meeting.

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