Fri, Dec 10, 2010 - Page 3 News List

SEF tight-lipped on timing of next cross-strait talks

MORE TIME NEEDED:MAC officials played down delays in negotiations on pacts related to arbitrations, saying the slowdown had nothing to do with sovereignty

By Ko Shu-ling  /  Staff Reporter

The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) yesterday remained tight-lipped on the exact timing of the next round of high-level cross-strait talks, but confirmed that a preparatory meeting would be held in Shanghai on Tuesday.

In a statement, the foundation said SEF Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) would travel to Shanghai to meet his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Deputy Chairman Zheng Lizhong (鄭立中), on Tuesday to work out the details of the two agreements both sides are expected to sign when SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) meet later this month.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairperson Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said the meeting would be held in Taipei “at the end of this month.”

Chiang and Chen agreed in June that the two sides would sign an investment protection pact and an agreement on medical and health cooperation when they meet later this year.

Although it has since emerged that the two sides are unlikely to sign the agreement on investment protection during the meeting, Lai said she hoped it could be signed in the first half of next year when Chiang and Chen meet again, this time in China.

Lai said both sides agreed they needed more time to complete negotiations on the matter, which involves complex issues. More details needed to be worked out on the personal safety of -Taiwanese businesspeople operating in China, compensation for land expropriation and a dispute-settlement mechanism.

“We don’t want to sign the agreement simply because we want one,” she said. “If we sign it, it must meet our interests and expectations.”

Lai denied the delay was caused by differences on sovereignty, as international arbitration — which had been rumored to be behind the impasse — had nothing to do with sovereignty.

Both sides, she said, needed to look further into their respective laws to see whether legal revisions or policy changes are necessary.

MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) denied that the negotiations on the proposed pact were stalled.

Both sides merely needed more time to negotiate, he said.

“It is incorrect to say that negotiations have been hampered by political problems,” he said. “It will take time and effort to work out a deal that is better than it is now and provides better protection for Taiwanese merchants.”

Also yesterday, Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi (王毅) said progress had been made in negotiations on the pact, adding that he was optimistic “good results could be achieved if both sides continued to address each other’s concerns.”

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