Taipei agrees to further non-official Beijing talks
TAIWAN and China have agreed to hold another set of non-official discussions in Beijing from January 21 to 27, a spokesman for Taipei's Strait Exchange Foundation (SEF) said yesterday.
SEF deputy secretary-general Lee Ching-ping said Beijing's counterpart intermediary, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), agreed to the proposed dates in a message sent to the SEF on Friday night.
The seventh session of working-level talks, which will attempt to finalise long-awaited agreements on coping with cross-strait hijacking, illegal immigrants and fishing disputes, will take place simultaneously with the third meeting between SEF vice-chairman and secretary-general Chiao Jen-ho and ARATS vice-chairman Tang Shubei.
The working-level discussions - likely to be led by SEF deputy secretary-general Hsu Hui-you and his ARATS counterpart Sun Yafu - will also discuss cross-strait express postal services.
Mr Lee said if agreements on the three main topics could be reached, Mr Chiao and Mr Tang might initial the pacts in Beijing.
Mr Chiao and Mr Tang reached a consensus in principle on resolving differences in these three issues at their previous meeting last August in Taipei, but the sixth set of working-level talks in Nanjing in November failed to finalise agreements.
Mr Chiao said both he and Mr Tang 'hope and believe that the consensus we reached in August will not change and hope that ARATS has the same position'.
Vincent Siew, the new chairman of the official Mainland Affairs Council, urged both sides to intensify efforts to build mutual trust. He reaffirmed Taipei's commitment to eventual reunification, but added that 'unification has no timetable and could take place in 20 years, 100 years or even 1,000 years'.