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President expounds vision on APEC leaders' meeting

2013/12/25 23:55:28

Taipei, Dec. 25 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said he was "willing" to attend the next leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to be held in Beijing in 2014.

Nevertheless, he acknowledged to the Chinese-language Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) during a Dec. 19 interview that he knows China has ruled out such an option.

"They have announced that they will not 'meet me' in the APEC scenario," Ma told the Hong Kong-based weekly.

He said that certain conditions were needed before leaders on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait could meet.

"We are still in the process of creating conditions favorable for such a meeting," Ma said.

According to the full text of the interview released by the Presidential Office on its website Wednesday, Ma told the weekly that the Taiwanese people would like him to meet with Chinese officials in his capacity as president of the Republic of China.

"That could be difficult as both sides do not recognize each other's sovereignty status. That's why some people suggest that APEC could be an opportune venue for such a meeting," Ma said.

He recalled that when Taiwan was admitted to APEC, many sensitive issues were addressed.

For instance, Ma said, APEC refers to its members as "economies" instead of "states" and its annual summit is called an "annual leaders' meeting."

For years, the ROC president has been barred from attending the annual APEC leaders' meeting in person and has had to name a proxy to attend the meeting on his behalf.

Ma said Taiwan's representative has consistently held bilateral meetings with leaders of other APEC member economies on the sidelines of the annual APEC event.

"So if possible, I'm more than willing to attend the annual APEC leaders' meeting in person, no matter where it takes place," Ma said.

Stressing that Taiwan is an asset, not a liability, for APEC, Ma said he believes if he attends the APEC meeting, many members would be willing to hold bilateral talks with him.

On the development of cross-strait ties, Ma said the majority of Taiwan people look forward to engaging with China in a steady and gradual manner.

"Our people do not want cross-strait ties to develop too hastily or too slowly," he added.

(By Kelven Huang and Sofia Wu)