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No commitment over U.S. beef dispute: presidential spokesman

2012/02/03 15:21:11

Taipei, Feb. 3 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou made no commitments during recent meetings with U.S. officials over Taiwan's ban on imported U.S. beef containing a leanness-enhancing feed additive, a Presidential Office spokesman said Friday.

"President Ma Ying-jeou has no preset stance on the dispute or timetable for solving it before a national consensus is forged," Fan Chiang Tai-chi said.

The spokesman was responding to media reports that said Ma pledged to solve the dispute over U.S. beef imports one day after he won the Jan. 14 presidential election.

Fan Chiang said Ma thinks the issue of whether to open Taiwan to U.S. beef containing ractopamine will have to be addressed based on science and experience and the formation of a national consensus.

The government has to take into consideration both the nation's health and international relations, Fan Chiang said.

The spokesman said that when Ma received Paul D. Wolfowitz, chairman of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, Douglas Paal, vice president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and other U.S. scholars Jan. 15, he said only that "relations between Taiwan and the United States should continue to move forward."

"In addition to the purchase of F-16 C/D fighters and a solution to the U.S. beef import dispute, we also hope to restart talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement," Fan Chiang cited Ma as saying.

During a Feb. 1 meeting with Raymond Burghardt, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, Ma also told the top U.S. liaison official with Taiwan that "the government knows about the U.S. concerns over the beef. After the new Cabinet is sworn in Feb. 6, the new Cabinet members will employ a new approach and we will seriously exchange views with the U.S. over the issue."

Talks under TIFA, which was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of diplomatic ties, have been suspended because of U.S. dissatisfaction with Taiwan's beef ban.

Taiwan bans ractopamine in beef, while the United States, Japan and some other countries allow a certain level of the chemical.

(By Lee Shu-hua and Lilian Wu)