Taipei, Feb. 11 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou Tuesday praised the "extraordinary significance" of the first formal meeting between the top cross-strait officials from Taiwan and China, which opened in Nanjing earlier in the day.
Ma said the historic meeting between Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi and China's Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun -- the highest level official meeting since the two sides split in 1949 -- is of great significance to the peaceful development of cross-strait ties, according to a Presidential Office spokeswoman.
Wang is visiting China in his capacity as minister of the Cabinet-level MAC, a first for a Taiwanese official of his rank.
Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li said that Ma is happy to see the respective top government officials on cross-strait matters engage in direct interactions and exchange views on concrete issues.
The president hopes that the two sides will continue to expand and deepen exchanges on various fronts in the Year of the Horse -- a symbol of energy -- and facilitate the established peace and prosperity between the two sides, based on the shared ideas of the 1992 Consensus and "one China with different interpretations," Li said.
Ma also said that cross-strait relations should be pushed forward under the principle of "putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people" to meet the nation's needs and obtain people's support, according to Li.
Li noted that the meeting between Wang and Zhang is the first time Taiwan and China have held formal talks involving officials in charge of cross-strait ties, in which both sides addressed each other using their formal titles.
Wang and Zhang first greeted each other as "minister" at a brief informal meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bali, Indonesia in October last year.
(By Kelvin Huang and Evelyn Kao)