Wed, Sep 07, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Taipei unlikely to host cities forum, Ma Ying-jeou says

BY MO YAN-CHIH  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that because of time constraints and budget concerns, it is "very unlikely" Taipei will host this year's Asian Network of Major Cities (ANMC) meeting.

"At present it is unlikely that Taipei city will host the ANMC this year. But we will see what we can do after talking to [Ishihara Shintaro]," Ma said.

According to a report from CNA, officials from the Tokyo Governor's Office confirmed on Monday that Ishihara would arrive in Taipei yesterday. During his stay, Ishihara will meet with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Ma to discuss the repercussions of Beijing's abrupt withdrawal from the ANMC, and possibly invite Taipei to host this year's meeting in July.

Ma said that because the city's bid to host this year's meeting was turned down, the city government has not made any preparations for the meeting. On top of the time constraints, the city may not have enough budget to prepare for the meeting, exhibitions and activities. But as the city has earned the right to host the event next year, the city government has already budgeted for the 2006 ANMC meeting.

When asked if Beijing had dropped out of the meeting with the intention of repressing Taipei, Ma denied the allegation, and said the city will focus on assisting the ANMC to solve the problems caused by Beijing's withdrawal.

"Beijing didn't agree that the meeting should decide the 2006 event host now, and so has refused to endorse a joint statement," he said. "We were also surprised to learn of Beijing's sudden withdrawal, but we don't want to speculate on the reasons for the move. The focus now is to see what we can do to help solve the issue."

Taipei began its bid to host this year's ANMC meeting in July last year, but Beijing entered the race against Taipei only a few days before last year's annual meeting in Jakarta in November.

Beijing won the right to host the 2005 meeting, while Taipei earned the right to host the 2006 event. Last Tuesday, Beijing suddenly dropped out of the ANMC group.

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