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President Lee Meets with Former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry

President Lee Teng-hui stated clearly today: "We have high expectations for the resumption of cross-strait talks. As a matter of fact, our door has always been open for the talks."

President Lee made the remarks this morning when receiving the Strategic Security Issues Delegation of National Committee on U.S.-China Relations headed by former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry. Besides reiterating the ROC's stance on the reopening of cross-strait talks, the President told his visitors that the Republic of China on Taiwan occupies a geopolitically strategic location essential and indispensable to the security and interest of the Asia-Pacific region.

Accompanied by ROC Foreign Minister Jason Hu, the U.S. delegation met with President Lee at the Presidential Office this morning. The delegation included: Gen. John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor to U.S. President; and Adm. Ronald J. Hayes, former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. Ding Mou-shih, Secretary-General of ROC National Security Council and Su Chi, Deputy Secretary-General to the President were also present at the occasion.

The President said that throughout the 10 years of his presidency, he has always been very concerned about the development of cross-strait relations. In order to promote exchanges and favorable interactions between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, he had adopted many positive measures, including declaring the termination of the Period of National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion, replacing the previous state of military confrontation between the two sides with mutual exchanges, setting up the Straits Exchange Foundation and instituting the Guidelines for National Unification.

"Regrettably, Peking unilaterally suspended the Koo-Wang talks which had begun under painstaking elaboration, hindering the development of cross-strait relations," the President continued. "In fact, we have high expectations for the resumption of cross-strait talks; I have even expressed my willingness to embark upon a "journey of peace" to the mainland."

So far, the President said, Peking had not responded to this gesture. Currently many problems exist in cross-strait relations, such as arms and drug trafficking and illegal immigration. Their solutions require collaboration between both sides, President Lee added.

During the conversation with his guests, the President also asserted that the stance of the people and government of the Republic of China to pursue national reunification remains unchanged. "We need not declare independence," he said. "We are already a sovereign state. We have striven to survive and develop; our endeavors and achievements during the past forty-odd years have made our country a hope for all Chinese and a development model for the Chinese mainland."

"The Republic of China is different from Hong Kong," President Lee told his visitors. He said that Hong Kong had been a colony while the Republic of China is a sovereign nation. The two are not comparable, and this country would never accept the so-called "one country, two systems" or "one country, three systems" formulae, he added.

In the afternoon, Vice President Lien Chan also received Dr. Perry, Gen. Shalikashvili, Adm. Hayes, and Dr. Ashton Carter, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, among other members of the delegation.

The Vice President maintained that to resume cross-strait consultations at the earliest possible time, both sides of the Strait should make use of the existing mechanisms for communication--the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, rather than passing messages to each other through either a third party or the media.

He said that there should be no preconditions for cross-strait consultations, nor should the two sides waste time on agreeing on the definition of "one China," for national reunification has always been the ROC's policy. The ROC not only opposes "Taiwan independence," the Vice President continued, but also believes that its support of "Taiwan independence" would provide an excuse for Peking to use military force against this country in the name of nationalism, thereby jeopardizing not only the security of Taiwan, but also the stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Vice President Lien told the delegation that after years of hard work, the government and people of the ROC have established a nation with political freedom and democracy, economic affluence and prosperity as well as social justice and fairness. However, he said, although party politics has become part of this country's political system, people are unwilling to see the following outcome-- "New ruling party, New state."

It is the ROC's desire that the two sides of the Strait can solve their differences by peaceful means, but the ROC must maintain its own security and hopes that the U.S. government will continue to support this country, Vice President Lien said. "Cross-strait relationship today should not be defined by military confrontation, but rather, is a competition between different systems, providing an opportunity for all Chinese to compare and choose the lifestyle they favor," he added.

Dr. Perry and other members of his delegation met with Vice President Lien at the company of Francisco Ou, Vice Foreign Minister of the ROC. Deputy Secretary-General to the President Su Chi was also present at the occasion.

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