Envoy bows to questions on key talks
By CHRIS YEUNG and agencies
THE head of Taiwan's semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), Mr Koo Chen-fu, has bowed to pressure from the opposition to attend a question time with lawmakers at the legislative yuan tomorrow.
Mr Koo originally planned to take up questions from the legislators after his historic talks with his Chinese counterpart Mr Wang Daohan, chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait.
Next week's two-day unofficial meeting will be the highest level of contact between the two countries since 1949.
In Singapore, a senior aide to Mr Koo stressed that the talks would be unlikely to lead to early direct trade and transport links.
Mr Lee Ching-ping, deputy secretary-general of the SEF, said: ''I think the talks will be a starting point for good relations.
''We will witness one of the historic moments of the century.'' A source said: ''It can be seen as a meeting between the special envoys from the leadership of the two parties.'' The source added that opposition parties in Taiwan were worried about a ''sell-out'' by the ruling Kuomintang (KMT).
That prompted the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to press the KMT to let it name a member to take part in the Singapore summit as observer.
The DPP also decided to send its own observation team to Singapore.
Sources said the Taiwan team had been ordered by the cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council not to discuss any ''political'' issues during the talks.
The two sides agreed at a preparatory session in Beijing this month that the talks would be ''functional and procedural''.
In a report yesterday, the New China News Agency (NCNA) said it hoped the talks would lead to positive results.
''If the decisions at the talks are implemented correctly, it will certainly further promote the exchange and co-operation between the two sides,'' the NCNA said.
Meanwhile, China and Taiwan remained at loggerheads over Taiwan's bid for re-entry into the United Nations.
The semi-official Central News Agency in Taiwan quoted Foreign Minister Mr Fredrick Chien saying the application should be filed around September 1995.
It is the first time a ranking official had set a clear timetable for the UN plan. The President, Mr Lee Teng-hui, earlier said the country wanted to win international support for its UN bid in three years.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mr Wu Jianmin said: ''Taiwan is a Chinese province. Taiwan is not qualified for UN membership. It runs against the interests of the Chinese people.
''The peaceful reunification of China is our common aspiration.''