Fri, Mar 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Armitage says NUC could be revived

By Mo Yan-chih and Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage said yesterday that the US' understanding was that the National Unification Council (NUC) had not been abolished and that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) decision to cause the council to cease to function had not had a great deal of impact on the US.

"In our view, [the NUC] has ceased to function, but in the future, if some development comes up, it can function again," he said after a 45-minute meeting with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who doubles as Taipei Mayor, at the Taipei City Hall yesterday morning.

Ma said that he had asked Armitage to inform Chen about the US' real understanding of the situation. Ma also told Armitage that the difference between Taiwan's and the US' interpretations of the issue needed to be clarified.

With regard to the KMT's position on the arms procurement bill, Armitage said, "It looks like the party is forming a solid policy, and one that will promote adequate defense capabilities for Taiwan."

Ma said his party would present its version of the arms procurement bill next week, but that it would not be finalized until it had been negotiated with the KMT's pan-blue allies. Whether the pan-blue version would be finalized before his visit to the US on March 19 remains uncertain, the chairman said.

Ma said he complained to Armitage about US State Department Deputy spokesman Adam Ereli's omission of the president's title in a March 2 press statement. Ma told Armitage that it was "impolite" and said that he had publicly protested the omission earlier.

The former US official also met with the president behind closed-doors for almost two hours yesterday. Presidential Office officials were tight-lipped on the contents of their conversation.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) met with Armitage yesterday afternoon. They reached consensus on numerous international issues, according to a Cabinet spokesman. Above all, it was a "positive and lively" meeting, the spokesman said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Yu Shyi-kun, who held a half-hour meeting with Armitage at the DPP headquarters yesterday afternoon, told the press that Armitage had said that Taiwan's announcement on the NUC was a retaliatory measure in the wake of China's "Anti-Secession" Law.

"Mr. Armitage said the US warned China last year when it passed the Anti-Secession Law and that the subsequent decision on the NUC had validated the US viewpoint" Yu said yesterday. "But he also said that the NUC issue has come to an end, and that the relationship between Taiwan and the US is stable."

Armitage was also briefed about the DPP's plans for the future and its strategies for the upcoming legislative elections and the 2008 presidential election during their meeting, Yu added.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang

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