Wed, Nov 12, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office sets aside dates for Tsai meeting

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Presidential Office yesterday urged the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to refrain from “setting up roadblocks” for the planned meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said that the office was available today, tomorrow and Friday for the meeting. If Tsai was not available on those days, it had also reserved Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week, he said.

“If she is still unavailable, that is fine,” Wang said. “We don’t know exactly what difficulties she has encountered, but we hope she will be able to talk with the president. The doors of the Presidential Office are always open for her.”

Tsai has publicly urged Ma to have a dialogue with her on Taiwan’s cross-strait agenda.

Wang said yesterday that Presidential Office Secretary-General Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) had called DPP Secretary-General Wang Tuoh (王拓) on Monday to extend an invitation to Tsai to discuss national affairs with Ma.

Wang said that Ma had invited Tsai for a talk before he took office in May because he thought political dialogue and reconciliation would help social harmony and political unity. Unfortunately, Tsai has turned down all the invitations, Wang said.

While Ma and Tsai could not see eye to eye on which issues to focus on in the discussion, Wang said that no limits should be set for the meeting and that the two should be able to discuss all kinds of topics, including those of concern to Tsai.

“If they were really sincere about the meeting, they should not have set any roadblocks or preconditions for the meeting. It is unnecessary,” Wang said. “President Ma and the Presidential Office have expressed their utmost sincerity and hope to see Chairperson Tsai come to the Presidential Office to meet the president.”

Asked whether the Presidential Office would follow up with another telephone call after Chan extended the invitation, Wang said the office had shown its sincerity by making the first call, but did not set a deadline for the DPP to reply. If the DPP is sincere, it will let the Presidential Office know its answer, Wang said.

At a different setting yesterday afternoon, Ma said he was ready to meet Tsai at any time and that he would be happy to discuss “issues of public concern” with her.

Ma said he had been promoting cross-strait reconciliation, political cooperation and coexistence with the opposition since he took office in May. In light of the global economic crisis, Ma said he had invited Tsai to discuss national affairs on several occasions. He said he would be willing to talk with Tsai as long as she did not set the discussion topics or preconditions for the meeting.

In response, DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) told a press conference yesterday that the DPP insisted that talks should only be conducted after both sides had prepared thoroughly.

He said that although the Presidential Office had told the media Ma had reserved days for Tsai to choose from for the meeting, the DPP had not received any official information from the Presidential Office about the meeting. Cheng added that until now the DPP had not discussed a date or format for the meeting with the Presidential Office.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG

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