Taipei, July 16 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou called Friday for a new dimension in Taiwan-Russia ties after the recent conclusion of the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.
"The clinching of the ECFA has stimulated other Asian countries to enhance their relations with Taiwan, and Taiwan hopes to build wide-ranging exchanges with Russia at this historic juncture, " Ma told Vasily N. Do Brovolskiy, Russia's top representative to Taiwan, during a meeting at the Presidential Office.
Noting that it was difficult to promote Taiwan-Russia links when cross-Taiwan Strait relations were stalemated during the previous administration, Ma said that "we hope to build closer economic, educational and cultural exchanges with Russia in a new atmosphere, and they could be started by providing reciprocal visa waivers and establishing direct air links." Ma noted that he visited Moscow in 1997, while first lady Chow Mei-ching also visited the country in June in her capacity as the honorary director of the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre.
In 2009, two-way Taiwan-Russia trade decreased to US$2.7 billion compared to the 2008 figure of US$3.6 billion as a result of the global financial crisis, which the president said was a sign that there is ample room for the two countries to boost trade and investment.
Currently, about 120 Taiwanese students are studying in Russia, while 250 Russian students are pursuing academic courses in Taiwan, which is another area in which Taiwan should make greater efforts, he added.
(By S.H. Lee and Flor Wang)