President condemns lethal bombardment of S Korean island

By Ko Shu-ling  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Dec 17, 2010 - Page 3

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday condemned North Korea for its deadly bombardment of a South Korean border island last month and expressed the hope for peace and prosperity to be restored in the Northeast Asia.

It was the first time Ma had commented on the incident in his capacity as president.

The attack came following North Korea’s alleged sinking in March of the South Korean warship the Cheonan, which killed 46.

Ma yesterday said tensions on the Korean Peninsula have remained high over the past 60 years since the Korean War. Taiwan, as a member of Northeast Asia, has an obligation to advance regional peace, he said.

“On the one hand, we make efforts to push reconciliation [with China] so we can see a glimpse of light in cross-strait relations,” he said when meeting Eustace John, deputy governor-general of St Christopher and Nevis, and his wife at the Presidential Office. “On the other hand, we solemnly condemn North Korea’s provocative acts and words. We hope Northeast Asia will return to peace and prosperity.”

Ma previously briefly commented on the incident when attending an event ot mark the 116th anniversary of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in his capacity as party chairman.

Ma said he has committed himself to improving relations with China since taking office in May 2008. The purpose is to lower tensions in the Taiwan Strait and institutionalize trade and business cooperation, he said.

Both sides have taken a “pragmatic and friendly” attitude when negotiating and signing 14 agreements, he said.

“Such an accomplishment has not only defused tension across the Taiwan Strait, but it has also benefited people on both sides of the Strait,” Ma said.