Taiwan’s top negotiator heads to China for historic talks

June 11th, 2008 - 1:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Taipei, June 11 (DPA) Taiwan’s top negotiator with China Wednesday headed to Beijing for historic talks that will pave the way for cross-strait rapprochement after six decades of impasse. “We hope through the talks this time, the two sides would be able to achieve a win-win situation so that people across the Taiwan Strait can live better,” said Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), before departing.

He said his four-day trip to Beijing is a “journey to build mutual trust” with China, a long-time rival of the island since the two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949.

The two sides had their first historic talks in 1993 in Singapore, but China suspended further dialogue in 1999 to retaliate against Taiwan leaders’ advocating independence.

“Basically, what we are pursuing through the talks is to achieve cross-strait peace and prosperity as well as stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

Weekend charter flights and tourism will be discussed Thursday between Chiang, whose SEF represents the Taiwanese government in talks with China in the absence of formal ties, and his Chinese counterpart Chen Yunlin of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS).

Chiang, who led a 19-member delegation to China, is expected to sign agreements with Chen Friday and meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on the same day before returning to Taiwan in the weekend.

The group took an Air Macau flight to Beijing with a brief stop in Macau as there are no direct flights between the two rivals. Taiwan has imposed a ban on direct links with China since 1949.

Thursday’s talks will focus on the island’s plan to launch direct weekend charter flights, and opening of the island for holiday visits by Chinese tourists. They would pave the way for regular direct flights and other direct links in the future.

On Tuesday, Chiang said there would be more talks across the strait in the future and they would help set the stage for cross-strait peace and regional stability.

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