The historic visit will mark the first time a KMT leader has set foot on mainland soil since 1949 The leader of Taiwan's biggest opposition party will lead a 70-strong delegation to the mainland today for the highest-level exchange between the two sides of the strait since 1949. The visit by Lien Chan - who will be joined by three party vice-chairmen and other senior officials - will mark the first time a leader of the Kuomintang has set foot on mainland soil in 56 years. President Hu Jintao invited Mr Lien and People First Party chairman James Soong Chu-yu in an attempt to reach out to the Taiwanese opposition parties. Mr Lien is scheduled to hold talks with Mr Hu, who is also Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary, on Friday. Mr Lien said last night that the history of contemporary China made him sad. 'The KMT and CCP had bitter conflicts that eventually led to a civil war,' he said, but added it was time to adopt a new attitude to cross-strait relations. 'Given the political and economic developments on the mainland over the years, we shouldn't remain stuck in the mindset of the 1930s, 1950s or even 1980s [when handling cross-strait issues]', he said. He stressed the ultimate goal of his visit was to push for peace across the Taiwan Strait. 'I hope the two sides can work together and help each other move forward to a peaceful future.' Mr Lien said that in his meeting with Chinese officials, he would exchange views in the interest of the island and its 23 million people. He declined to reveal what he would discuss with Mr Hu, saying there would be no limits to the talks during his visit, which will take him to Nanjing , Beijing, Xian and Shanghai. Mr Lien said he would not rule out talking about Beijing's Anti-Secession Law - which authorises the use of force against Taiwan if it moves towards independence - but emphasised he was not representing the government in talks with the mainland. He made this point clear during a telephone conversation with President Chen Shui-bian later in the afternoon. 'This journey of peace is being made by an individual, and will not involve issues that need authorisation from the government,' he told Mr Chen. Mr Lien stressed he would report to the government on any positive messages about cross-strait rapprochement made by Beijing. The island's government could then decide how to respond. The KMT leader told Mr Chen he would adhere to his party's long-standing cross-strait policy after the president voiced concern over Mr Lien's pro-unification stance. Mr Chen initially opposed Mr Lien's visit, but had a change of heart after the US gave its blessing. After Mr Lien returns to Taiwan next Tuesday, his People First Party counterpart, Mr Soong, will leave for the mainland two days later for an eight-day visit, during which he will also meet Mr Hu.