President Hu Jintao yesterday assured Lien Chan, Taiwan's envoy to the Apec summit, that Beijing's policies towards Taipei would continue along the current path after his retirement. In his meeting with Lien, a former vice-president of Taiwan, Hu also committed to "seriously study" whether to help the island join the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN agency that oversees international air travel. Taiwan has made ICAO a priority in its effort to bolster global ties in the absence of UN membership. The meeting ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Vladivostok, Russia, will probably be Hu's last chance to exchange views with Lien on an international stage before handing control of the ruling Communist Party to Vice-President Xi Jinping at the 18th party congress. Lien, whom Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou appointed as his envoy to the summit, quoted Hu as saying: "After the [party's] 18th national congress, the mainland will undergo the required process of personnel change, but, in terms of the current cross-strait policy direction, we all think that it is positive and that should be continued." Beijing still considers Taiwan - where the Kuomintang re-established itself after its 1949 defeat in the Chinese civil war - a breakaway province. But both sides' leaders have sought in recent years to improve ties despite continued military tension. Lien said Hu told him that Beijing would continue to support the peaceful development of cross-strait relations to strengthen the foundation of political, economic, cultural and social development between Taiwan and the mainland. On their discussion of Taiwan's desire to participate in international bodies, Lien quoted Hu as saying that Beijing would "seriously study our bid to join the International Civil Aviation Association". Lien said Hu's remarks should be seen as a goodwill gesture from Beijing, which has previously stopped Taiwan joining international organisations.