President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday urged Washington to strengthen high-level dialogue with Taiwan and said he hoped to see the two countries establish a "two-plus-two" mechanism through which foreign and defense ministers can meet regularly.
The president said continuous contact and dialogue were important because they were conducive to resolving differences or misunderstandings.
It is an open secret that Taiwan and the US has a good high-level dialogue mechanism, particularly on the security level, he said.
However, the US later adjusted those communication channels, Chen said, adding that since American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Stephen Young took office, the channel has switched to the AIT and Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington.
"We are not saying Director Young is doing badly. He does a great job and we are very grateful for his contributions," he said. "But the US and Japan have embassies and the two-plus-two communication mechanism because the embassy or the ambassador cannot take care of certain matters. It is like US President George W. Bush's hotline to the Japanese prime minister, Chinese president and other diplomatic allies."
Chen said he realized many factors had contributed to problems in bilateral interactions, but changing the mechanism for high-level dialogue was an important one.
Chen made the remarks while meeting Randall Schriver, former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific under the current Bush administration, and Dan Blumenthal, who served as the senior director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia in the Secretary of Defense's Office of International Affairs under the administration of George H.W. Bush, at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon.
Schriver is a founding partner of the Armitage International consulting firm and Blumenthal works as a resident fellow in the US-based conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute..
They are in Taiwan to share a report on the state of US-Taiwan relations.
Chen yesterday said he had noticed the report steered clear of the issue of Taiwan's sovereignty. He said it was impossible to separate Taiwan's sovereignty from its relations with the US or China.
Schriver said they did address the question of sovereignty in their report, but in a more oblique way.
"But we did feel it is important to state very clearly our view that Taiwan's future status belongs to nobody other than the people of Taiwan, and the people of Taiwan should make the choice about what Taiwan should be in the future," Schriver said.
Although they have not explicitly taken a position on the issue, it should not be viewed as removing any options from the table that the people of Taiwan may want to pursue, he said.
Regarding Taiwan's international space and profile, Schriver said they thought it was important that the US and others continue to support Taiwan's application and interest in joining international organizations.
In addition to seeking membership in these global organizations, Schriver said their report articulated a vision that involves global partnership on joint promotion of democracy, as well as collaborating on international development assistance and humanitarian aid in some cases.
Blumenthal said it was important to have dialogue and contact because the Taiwan Strait is a flash point for the US, which could become involved in a military conflict.