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President, protesters repeat calls for talks with 'no preconditions'
Central News Agency
2014-03-26 04:24 PM
Taipei, March 26 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou's office said Wednesday he is still hoping to meet with representatives of the protesters who have occupied the Legislature since Marh 18, as both sides traded barbs and continued to demand "no preconditions." Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li said midday that Ma will continue to make appeals to the protesters. The statement came hours after the leader of the protest implied that the president's overtures for talks were insincere. Asked whether Ma would accept the protesters' demands that any meeting be held in a public space, Li said that the talk would occur in an open, transparent manner with media involvement. However, sources in the Presidential Office said the office does not have the authority to answer demands that Ma, who is chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), stop using disciplinary measures against KMT lawmakers who do not toe the party line. The sources added that protest leader Lin Fei-fan's broaching of party disciplinary measures made it hard to believe the students occupying the Legislature were not trying to find tactics to avoid meeting with the president. In the morning, Lin held a press conference from within the Legislature's main chamber to affirm the idea of a meeting with the president subject to "no preconditions," but he criticized what he saw as interference by Ma in an attempt to get ruling and opposition lawmakers to come to terms over trade-in-services pact with China. "It is clear that President Ma is using party disciplinary measures to coerce KMT lawmakers and obstruct our legislation," said the 26-year-old, a graduate student of politics at National Taiwan University. KMT and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers met the second time Tuesday but failed to find common ground on the controversial pact, which the KMT insists is vital to Taiwan's future development but the DPP claims will hurt local businesses. Ma's office extended the invitation to Lin and other representatives Tuesday to discuss a way to end the week-long Legislature occupation, but only under condition of "no preconditions." Lin responded that day said he agreed with the idea of no preconditions before adding two of his own. The talk must be held in an open and public place, and the two sides must discuss establishing laws governing future cross-strait trade pacts. Though the two sides have portrayed each other's offer as insincere, a lot is riding on the possibility of talking out an end to the protest that has paralyzed the Legislature for over a week. Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who presided over two rounds of talks between KMT and DPP lawmakers, said early Wednesday that he will wait for a meeting between Ma and protest leaders before mediating another session between the feuding legislators. (By Kelven Huang and Wesley Holzer)
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