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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 April 2006, 04:10 GMT 05:10 UK
China calls for talks with Taiwan
Lien Chan and wife arriving in Beijing
Lien Chan is leading a large business and political delegation
Chinese President Hu Jintao has called for talks between China and Taiwan as soon as possible.

He made the remark after meeting Lien Chan, the former leader of Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang party.

Mr Lien is leading a delegation of more than 100 Taiwanese opposition politicians and business people.

China sees Taiwan as part of its territory and has threatened to use force if the island ever moved to declare formal independence.

However throughout his speech on Sunday, President Hu stressed the importance of peace.

He said the two sides should "resume talks on an equal footing as soon as possible".


Top level talks have been suspended since 1999 when former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui said relations should be "special state to state".

President Hu said Taiwan should return to a 1992 consensus that the two sides were part of "one China".

"Adhering to the 1992 consensus is the important basis for realising peaceful development between the two sides," Mr Hu said.

Analysts have suggested Beijing's overtures to Taiwan's opposition are an attempt to isolate President Chen Shui-bian, who leans towards formal independence for Taiwan.

Mr Lien visited Beijing in April 2005, the first meeting between the leaders of the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party since the Kuomintang lost the civil war and fled to Taiwan in 1949.

His latest visit has attracted criticism in Taiwan amid a debate over expanding commercial ties with China.

Taiwan's Vice President Annette Lu accused Mr Lien of "betraying his conscience".

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