Let's put transit spat behind us: Chen

STATUS QUO: The president said he was happy that the row over where in the US he would be allowed to transit had not affected the two countries' ties of friendship

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tue, May 16, 2006 - Page 3

The transit spat during President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) state visit to Latin American allies has affected neither the nation's relationship with the US nor his attitude toward the arms procurement plan, Chen said yesterday.

"Although I could not make transit stops in the US in the manner we had expected, we want to put this behind us and move on," Chen said yesterday afternoon at a meeting with Michael Green, a former special assistant to the US president on national security affairs.

Green has also served as the US National Security Council's senior director for Asian affairs.

"I'm happy to see that the US government does not feel that the transit disagreement will affect our friendship, or the cooperation and mutual trust between the two countries," Chen said.

There is no doubt that Taiwan will work with the US government on issues of common interest and bilateral ties during the remaining two years of his term, he said.

"We do want to move on and look forward," Chen said.

"Because there are many issues of mutual concern and common interest between the two countries, we need to work together," he said.

Green arrived in Taipei on Sunday at the invitation of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. He is scheduled to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳), Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) during his five-day visit.

Chen told Green he was grateful that the transit dispute would not affect the upcoming visit of US Deputy Trade Representative Karan Bhatia.

Bhatia is scheduled to arrive in Taipei at the end of the month to discuss issues relating to the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) as well as other topics of mutual interest.

Chen said he hoped the extensive discussion process would lead to constructive results.

The president dismissed speculation that he might put the long-stalled US arms procurement package on hold after he returned from his overseas trip in retaliation for the transit-stop spat.

"I'd like to emphasize again that we need to buy the three important items [specified in the purchase proposal] to beef up Taiwan's national defense capabilities," he said.

"We will work very hard to get the approval of the legislature," he added.

Chen said that when he was in San Jose, Costa Rica, he received a telephone call from Washington. During the conversation, Chen said, he reassured US officials that his commitment to US President George W. Bush and the US government would remain unchanged.

Chen pledged in his first inaugural address in 2000 that he would not declare independence, change Taiwan's formal name from the Republic of China, enshrine the "state-to-state" model of cross-strait relations in the Constitution, nor endorse a referendum on formal independence.

He also pledged that the National Unification Council and the National Unification Guidelines would not become an issue as long as the Chinese Communist Party regime had no intention of using military force against Taiwan.

The pledge is commonly known as the "five noes" or the "four noes and one not."