Axing unification council 'would have across-the-board impact' The US has warned Taipei against scrapping the council set up by the island's former government to discuss cross-strait unification with Beijing. In a sign of growing US concern over President Chen Shui-bian's call to scrap the politically symbolic National Unification Council (NUC), a senior Bush administration official told the Taipei-based China Times that Mr Chen would face 'across-the-board' consequences and there would be an impact on Taiwan-US relations, if Mr Chen defied Washington's warnings against such a move. In a statement issued on January 29, Mr Chen said it was time to scrap the council, set up in 1991 by the Kuomintang government to leave open the possibility of cross-strait unification and avoid a possible military conflict across the Taiwan Strait. Mr Chen has also said he would push for the island to join the United Nations under the name of 'Taiwan' and adopt a new constitution, remarks that hint at a campaign for the island's formal split from the mainland. The US official, who was not named by the China Times, noted that Mr Chen's statement expressed a sense of direction over which the US was highly concerned. Washington feared Mr Chen might break pledges not to seek Taiwan's independence, a move which might provoke Beijing to attack the island. The official said Taipei had communicated with Washington on the issue but there had been no progress. He said if differences between Washington and Taipei remained, the consequences would be 'across the board' since these would impact on Taiwan's ties with the US, the mainland and the international community. In Taipei, the Presidential Office and the Foreign Ministry yesterday stressed that the government had not received any warning from the US. 'We have no knowledge about the reported warning,' said Presidential Office spokesman Chen Wen-tsung. He claimed that even if the US official had made the comments to the newspaper, it was just a personal opinion. Deputy Presidential Secretary-General Ma Yung-cheng told Taiwanese media at a separate gathering that Mr Chen had 'felt strong pressure' from the US over the issue of scrapping the NUC. Presidential Secretary-General Mark Chen Tan-sun said earlier the president had made it clear there would be an answer on whether to scrap the council before the end of the month, although Mr Ma yesterday said a definite date had yet to be set. The government has stepped up efforts to justify Mr Chen's proposal to scrap the NUC, which has been dormant since Mr Chen, of the Democratic Progressive Party, assumed the presidency in 2000, ending five decades of KMT rule of Taiwan.