Taiwan, China to resume formal talks in June
Taiwan and its longtime rival China are to resume official talks that have been suspended for a decade early next month in Beijing, the island's top negotiator said Thursday.
The agreement came after the leaders of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT), and the Communist Party of China agreed Wednesday that Beijing and Taipei should resume talks as soon as possible, reported dpa.
"The Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait has invited us to Beijing from June 11 to 14 to hold talks on weekend cross-strait charter flights and visits by mainland tourists to Taiwan," said Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, which represents Taipei in talks with China.
At a news conference in Taipei, Chiang said Thursday that he received the invitation from the mainland-based association earlier in the day and immediately asked his deputy, Kao Koong-lian, to organize a delegation and prepare for talks with China.
The association and Chiang's foundation were set up in 1991 to represent their respective governments in talks in the absence of formal ties. Taiwan and China split at the end of a civil war in 1949.
Beijing, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that must be brought back into the Chinese fold, suspended talks with Taipei when then-Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui reclassified cross-strait relations as "special state-to-state" ties in 1999. Such a reclassification has been regarded as a pro-independence move by Lee.
Chiang said Taiwan's delegation would be made up of negotiators from his foundation, relevant government agencies and civilian organizations.
He said he was optimistic the two sides would be able to reach agreement on the flight and holiday visit issues, which Taiwan plans to launch July 4.
KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung met Chinese President and Communist Party chief Hu Jintao Thursday for the highest-level talks between the two sides in the 60 years since the Chinese Civil War.
Chinese state media quoted Wu as saying that cross-Strait relations had become "tense and even stepped backwards" in recent years and the two sides should "make good use of new opportunities under the new situation."
Weekend charter flights and visits by mainland tourists to Taiwan would be the initial focus of the talks, the official Xinhua news agency quoted Wu as saying.
The two sides wanted to "build mutual trust and set aside disputes that cannot be settled in the near future," Wu said.