Taipei-Beijing rapprochement fails to dispel doubts over diplomacy A meeting of top-level leaders in Beijing yesterday gave a dramatic boost to long-soured relations across the Taiwan Strait, but some analysts remained doubtful that the two sides could resolve their political differences - especially over sovereignty. The historic opportunity for cross-strait rapprochement was created when the mainland-friendly KMT returned to power on the island in March. During yesterday's meeting, KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung and his Communist Party counterpart, Hu Jintao, vowed to make use of the 'new situation' to improve ties. Pundits said that while the two sides were expected to have a friendly engagement in the short-term, it was inevitable that they would eventually touch on thorny political issues, including disputes over diplomacy and sovereignty. 'Whether there will be any conflict between the two sides over diplomatic issues, and whether they can compromise on these issues, is something worth watching,' said Tung Chen-yuan, a professor at the Graduate Institute of Development Studies at National Chengchi University. Taiwan's new president, Ma Ying-jeou, is tipped to visit Latin America this year, and it remained to be seen whether Beijing would protest against his transit stay in the United States, as it did with his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, Dr Tung said. Another point of interest, he noted, was to what extent Beijing would consolidate its goodwill gesture towards Taiwan: that is, whether talks would resume soon between Taipei's government-funded Straits Exchange Foundation and its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats). A further question was whether those two bodies could agree on weekend charter flights and holiday visits by mainland tourists, in line with the July 4 deadline set by the KMT government. 'More important, will the two sides be able to talk on political issues through the foundation and Arats?' Dr Tung said. Emile Sheng, a professor of political science at Soochow University, however, said the two sides were expected to avoid political issues in the short term. 'Inevitably, the two sides will have differences when they touch on political issues, but I believe they will do all they can to avoid them, at least in the short-term,' he said. It was important for the two sides to establish mutual trust before touching on political issues, Professor Sheng added. 'I believe Ma Ying-jeou will avoid emphasising any political significance when he makes his transit stay in the US en route to visit Latin American allies,' he said. Mr Wu yesterday acknowledged that he carried a message from Mr Ma to Mr Hu, but declined to reveal the details. Taiwanese news media, however, quoting an unnamed presidential official, said Mr Ma had called for the shelving of differences between the two sides in order to resume talks suspended since 1999 and to pave the way for rapprochement and peace.