Sun, Mar 05, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Voice of America apologizes for its incorrect report

STAFF WRITER WITH CNA , WASHINGTON

The Voice of America (VOA) yesterday issued a statement apologizing for its recent incorrect report concerning the National Unification Council (NUC), which led to misunderstandings between Taiwan and the US.

The VOA, which is partially owned by the US government, posted the statement on its Web site and expressed its regret.

The VOA's correspondent in Taiwan filed a story on Feb. 27 saying that Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山) and National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou I-ren (邱義仁) had told reporters there was no distinction between "ceasing" and "abolishing" the NUC and unification guidelines.

The report led US officials to issue a written statement on Thursday afternoon asking Taiwan to clarify that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) move to "cease" the NUC "did not abolish" the body.

In the VOA's statement on Saturday, it said that "in fact, the aforementioned two officials had not made this unequivocal statement, and the VOA's Chinese department apologized [for] any misunderstandings created by the report."

Asked by reporters yesterday for comment, Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) said "this is a result of the gap in our communications. It is inevitable that the communications between two countries will have some gaps. If the gap was caused by an inaccurate report by the VOA, we feel regret over that."

Huang also confirmed that Taipei was not notified in advance before the State Department issued the statement endorsed by deputy spokesman Adam Ereli on Thursday.

When asked whether the government would protest to the American Institute in Taiwan about the State Department's statement, he said the US did not do anything wrong.

"The United States asked us to reiterate our stand. Diplomatically speaking, we cannot say that the United States is at fault because it was a false report by VOA that caused the confusion. Whether the VOA report caused a third party to protest or put pressure on the United States, we don't know," Huang said.

In other developments, Ereli reiterated on Friday that "it's important that Taiwan unambiguously clarify its position" with regard to the status of the NUC.

That call comes amid an ongoing semantic dispute over whether Taiwan's recent move to "cease the function" of the organization is equivalent to "abolishing" it -- and thus arguably breaks the Taiwanese government's pledge to maintain the status quo.

Ereli made the remarks when asked whether Huang's statements so far have fulfilled Washington's expectations for Taipei to "unambiguously affirm that the Feb. 27 announcement did not abolish the NUC, did not change the status quo."

"I don't really have more to add to the statement," Ereli said during a daily press briefing. "It's important that Taiwan unambiguously clarify its position."

Additional reporting by Chang Yun-ping

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