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Mainland Taiwan affairs chief: Cross-Straits talks to be step-by-step

Wang Yi, Taiwan affairs chief of the Chinese mainland, said here on Monday that cross-Straits consultations should follow a step-by-step pattern.

The two sides should first tackle issues that are relatively easier to solve, said Wang, director of both the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

He made the remarks as he saw off Chen Yunlin, president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits(ARATS),at the Beijing Capital International Airport.

Wang said that the stance was also the consensus of the ARATS and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation, with whose chairman -- Chiang Pin-kung -- Chen is to hold talks during the five-day visit.

During Chen's visit, the two organizations will mainly discuss cross-Straits direct shipping, air transport, postal services and food safety.

Wang said the topics were agreed on previously by both sides. He added that the signing of agreements on these four issues would lay a foundation for more comprehensive development of cross-Straits relations.

The consultations would be step-by-step and confined to the four issues this time, he said.

As to the next step, Wang said the mainland would respect the Taiwan compatriots' opinions and try to include in future talks issues that they hoped to solve.

The mainland held an open and positive attitude toward future topics, he said, citing discussions on normalization of the cross-Straits economic ties and exploration of mechanized arrangements of cross-Straits economic cooperation.

He called for accelerated construction of a cross-Straits economic cooperation framework of long-term stability which conforms to the characteristics of their ties and meanwhile can win support from the people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.

During the process, talks would naturally involve starting financial cooperation, realizing mutual investment, implementing investment protection, avoiding double taxation and jointly cracking down on crimes and protecting intellectual property rights, he said.

Asked to comment on the different reactions on the island toward Chen's visit, Wang said polls showed that the majority of Taiwan public welcomed the visit and supported the improvement and development of cross-Straits ties.

"We know there are different voices," Wang said, "I think, so long as the opinions are well-meaning and beneficial to cross-Straits relations and to enhancing the mutual understanding between people on the two sides, we will give them respect."

Chen's visit marks the first ever meeting in Taiwan between leaders of the ARATS and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

Founded in 1991 and 1990 respectively, the ARATS and SEF are authorized by the mainland and Taiwan to handle cross-Straits civilian exchanges. Negotiations were suspended for almost 10 years until June, when Chen and Chiang held their first meeting in Beijing.

Wang said the detailed schedule of Chen's visit was still in consultation, expressing hope the activities would play a positive role in enhancing the cross-Straits ties and bringing the people on both sides emotionally closer to each other.

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