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Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 12:52 UK

Taiwan says China talks to resume

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou
Taiwan's new president favours closer ties with Beijing

Taiwan and Beijing will resume direct talks next month for the first time in a decade, the chairwoman of the island's Mainland Affairs Council says.

Lai Shin-yuan told reporters: "You will see very soon in June the beginning of institutional negotiations between the two sides."

There has been no comment so far on the subject from Beijing.

Earlier this week a new president, Ma Ying-jeou, took office in Taiwan. He wants better ties with China.

Two days later, on Thursday, a top Chinese official, Chen Yunlin, said there had been "major positive changes" in the Taiwan situation.

Lai Shin-yuan said she was cautiously optimistic that direct transport links between the two sides, which were halted in 1949, could resume by July.

Goodwill

This could mean weekend charter flights of passengers and cargo, and more Chinese tourists being allowed to visit.

"The July timetable", she told reporters, "is a realistic anticipation, and it is not based on wishful thinking".

The BBC's correspondent in Taipei says Ms Lai also said both sides had shown goodwill and were speaking the same language on the issue.

China and Taiwan have been ruled by separate governments since Mao Zedong's Communists won the Chinese civil war in 1949, and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists fled to the island.

China sees the island as a breakaway province which should be reunified, by force if necessary.




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