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Time 'ripe' for Ma-Xi meeting: MAC chief

Taipei, Nov. 4 (CNA) The time is right for a meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (???) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (???), Taiwan's top China policy planner said Wednesday, citing growing relations across the Taiwan Strait in recent years. Over the past seven years, the heads of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and the Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council have held six meetings and the heads of the semi-official agencies responsible for cross-strait negotiations have conducted 11 talks and signed 23 agreements, said Hsia Li-yan (???), minister of the MAC, at a news conference. In response to reporters' questions on the Ma-Xi meeting in Singapore on Nov. 7, Hsia said cross-strait relations have developed in recent years to a point where the leaders of both sides of the strait can meet. "The time is ripe," he said. The meeting will take place in a Singapore hotel, Hsia said. He said Ma and Xi will meet in their capacities as "the leader of Taiwan," and "the mainland's leader," respectively, and will address each other as "mister." They will each deliver opening remarks before the closed-door meeting, and will hold separate news conferences after their discussions, Hsia said. On the question of whether the meeting is aimed at preserving the cross-strait status quo no matter who wins the January presidential election in Taiwan, Hsia said he hopes it will not just help to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait but will also help institutionalize such cross-strait meetings. Speaking about the negotiations that led to the decision on the meeting, Hsia said Taiwan had hoped such a meeting would take place on the sidelines of this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but China rejected the idea. He said that in a meeting on Oct. 14 in Guangzhou, he and his Chinese counterpart Zhang Zhijun (???) discussed the possibility of a Ma-Xi meeting and Zhang thought the APEC summit was not a suitable venue. Hsia said he then proposed a Ma-Xi meeting in Singapore, where the historical cross-strait talks between Taiwan and China's top negotiators were held in 1993. After weeks of discussions across the strait, the proposal was agreed on by both sides, Hsia said. Ma is scheduled to depart for Singapore Saturday morning on a chartered flight and meet with Xi in the afternoon. They will hold separate news conferences after the meeting and then have dinner together, after which Ma will return to Taiwan. (By Yin Chun-chieh and Elaine Hou)

Updated : 2021-09-28 01:43 GMT+08:00