Joint efforts on earthquake hailed; sensitive issues tackled Leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Strait yesterday held their first summit in more than 60 years, with President Hu Jintao promising future discussions would include Taiwan's bid to take part in international bodies. President Hu, general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and Wu Poh-hsiung, chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang, held an hour-long meeting in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, cementing high-level talks between the two ruling parties. They highlighted the cordial approach between the two sides folowing the Sichuan earthquake to express their wishes for renewed cross-strait co-operation, made possible following Ma Ying-jeou's victory for the KMT in the Taiwanese presidential election in March. Mr Hu invited Mr Wu to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in August, which he accepted. While the two sides praised each others for their generousity and leadership following the earthquake, they also discussed sensitive issues, including Taiwan's international status. Mr Wu told a press conference the talks focused on early implementation of regular weekend charter flights for Taiwanese on the mainland and approval for more mainland tourists to visit Taiwan, but he also raised the issue of Taiwan's international status and the island's security. Mr Wu confirmed that future talks would be conducted on the basis of the '1992 consensus' and would be based on the principle of 'seeking common ground and accepting differences'. The consensus refers to an understanding reached in Hong Kong by the two sides to set aside political differences to continue with talks. Xinhua reported Mr Hu saying that after the two sides resumed dialogue through the Association for Relations Across Taiwan Strait and the Straits Exchange Foundation - two quasi bodies authorised by their governments as negotiation partners - Taipei has fought hard with Beijing over years regarding its absence from the world health body. In their public speechs, both Mr Hu and Mr Wu put their differences behind. In a reference to the earthquake, Mr Hu said 'all sons and daughters of the Chinese heritage, including our Taiwanese compatriots' had not only shown, in a time of crisis, the 'spiritual force uniting our ethnicity to help each other and overcome hardship' but this would also 'become a powerful motivation for people on the two sides of the [Taiwan] Strait to join hands and pioneer a promising future for cross-strait co-operation'. Mr Hu thanked the Taiwanese for their generous earthquake donations and for relief teams, while Mr Wu thanked Beijing for ensuring the safe return of 2,890 Taiwanese tourists caught in the quake. 'As long as we care about each other and make use of benevolent interaction, I believe a peaceful and stable development of cross-strait relations can be expected,' Mr Wu said. 'Between Taiwan and the mainland, no one can guarantee there will never be natural disasters again; but through mutual endeavours we can ensure that there will never be war.' According to Mr Wu, the two sides also discussed the plan by Beijing to send two pandas to Taiwan.