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Page last updated at 10:13 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 11:13 UK

Historic China-Taiwan summit held

Taiwan"s ruling Nationalist Party Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung, left, is greeted by Chinese President Hu Jintao during their meeting in Beijing"s Great Hall of the People Wednesday May 28, 2008
The meeting was the highest-level encounter for 60 years

The head of Taiwan's ruling party has met Chinese President Hu Jintao in the highest-level encounter since the two sides split in 1949.

Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung is in China for a six-day landmark visit to discuss cross-strait transport links.

The trip is being seen as another sign of warming ties between the two sides.

Taiwan's new president, Ma Ying-jeou, has called for a new "chapter of peace" to be opened.

Mr Wu met Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Mr Hu made reference to the potential for improved relations under Taiwan's new leadership, and also expressed his gratitude for aid from Taiwan following the devastating earthquake in China's Sichuan province.

"The love for compatriots shown by the whole Chinese people in time of disaster will become the power to drive cooperation between the compatriots across the strait and create the future together," he said.

Mr Wu took the opportunity to say that Taiwan and China should ensure they never take up arms against each other again.

"We cannot guarantee there won't be any natural disasters... but through our mutual efforts, we can ensure there is no war," he added.

'Second track'

TAIWAN-CHINA RELATIONS
Ruled by separate governments since end of Chinese civil war in 1949
China considers the island part of its territory
China has offered a "one country, two systems" solution, like Hong Kong
Most people in Taiwan support status quo

On Tuesday Mr Wu held talks with Jia Qinglin, a high-ranking Communist Party official.

The agenda included establishing direct cross-strait flights and allowing more Chinese tourists into Taiwan.

The BBC's Caroline Gluck in Taipei says Mr Wu is not authorised to sign any documents with Chinese officials.

And some analysts have said that China is calling the shots by allowing this high profile meeting to take place before a visit by the head of Taiwan's semi-official body, the Straits Exchange Foundation, the only organisation designated by Taipei to hold negotiations with Beijing in the absence of official contacts.

Nevertheless Mr Ma has said he welcomes this latest visit, our correspondent adds.

He says contacts between the two sides' ruling parties could serve as what he calls a "second track" in helping to improve and promote friendlier relations between Taiwan and China.

China says that Taiwan is part of its territory, although the two have been separately governed since 1949.

Beijing has previously threatened to attack Taiwan if the self-ruled island ever proclaimed independence.




SEE ALSO
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Taiwanese hope of new China chapter
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Choppy waters between China and Taiwan
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Profile: Ma Ying-jeou
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