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President willing to talk with student protesters (update)

2014/03/25 16:35:17

Taipei, March 25 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou is willing to hold talks with representatives of protesting students "without any preconditions" to help end the standoff over a trade pact with China and allow the Legislature to get back on track, Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li said Tuesday.

Li said Ma is willing to invite representatives of the protesters to the Presidential Office to discuss the trade-in-services pact and listen to their views if it will help end the student-led occupation of the Legislature that began March 18.

Li said Ma has agreed that people have differing views on the trade-in-services agreement signed across the Taiwan Strait last June, and the government's attitude is that it is open to communication, even after the protesters broke into the Executive Yuan, resulting in more than 170 injuries during the police operation to remove them.

The president hopes to embark on democratic and rational dialogue with the protesters.

She said that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng is in the process of convening a meeting to coordinate views between the ruling and opposition parties, and that Ma respects parliamentary autonomy.

But the president and the executive branch also want to pursue all possible options to help bring to an end the stalemate over the trade pact.

Li said that if the protesters respond positively, the Presidential Office will extend the invitation.

Responding to the president's offer, a student leader agreed to a meeting without preconditions.

But Lin Fei-fan said that discussion is still needed as to whether to institutionalize a monitoring mechanism for cross-strait agreements, and whether to accomplish such institutionalization before starting to screen the trade pact.

(By Kelven Huang, Jay Chen and Lilian Wu)

●March 25: Student leaders conditionally willing to meet with president

(Click here for the latest on the ongoing protest and developments since the Legislature occupation starting March 18.)