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Ma hopes Taiwan can get U.S. visa waiver status by year-end

2012/09/20 16:32:38

Taipei, Sept. 20 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Thursday that he hopes the United States will grant visa-free status to Taiwan by the end of this year.

President Ma said that after three years of efforts, the United States nominated Taiwan for its visa waiver program last year, and "we hope to hear the good news by the end of this year."

Ma made the remarks while meeting with Christopher J. Marut, the new director of the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan, which is the de facto U.S. embassy in the absence of official ties.

Marut's relationship with Taiwan is deep, Ma said, noting that his wife is from Hong Kong and their two children were born in Taiwan.

Marut first came to Taiwan to learn Chinese, and later came to serve as a diplomat, Ma said, adding that this is Marut's third time in the country.

He expressed the hope to work with Marut to continue to improve relations between the two countries.

He said that since he assumed office four years ago in his first term, he has found that what is needed most is an improvement in high-level trust between the Republic of China and the United States.

What is important is to promote a "low-key, zero-accident" policy, and to have full communications with the United States on major incidents and policy promotion, Ma said.

He said that through full communications, bilateral trust has been built up step by step.

He also said the relationship between the Republic of China and the United States is not confined to the areas of security, military, trade or economy.

The relationship also includes cooperation in non-traditional security areas such as fighting terrorism, nuclear proliferation, pirating, drug trafficking, human trafficking and climate change, he said.

At a separate event Thursday, Ma said that follow-up Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) talks with China on the commodity and service sectors have been going smoothly.

"The progress of these talks has been good, and we hope to see tangible results this year," the president said at an economic forum sponsored by local newspaper Economic Daily News.

"We hope to complete all the talks by the end of next year," he added.

Taiwan and China signed the ECFA in 2010.

(By Kelven Huang, Lin Hui-chun and Lilian Wu)