Page last updated at 04:15 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 05:15 UK

China and Taiwan to restart talks

Taiwan ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (C) waves to the press while visiting the National stadium in Beijing on May 28, 2008
Taiwan's Wu Poh-hsiung is on a landmark visit to China

Taiwan has accepted an invitation from China to restart bilateral talks that have been suspended for a decade, in a further signal of warming relations.

China invited Taiwanese officials to attend talks in Beijing from 11 June, with the focus on tourism and charter flights.

Accepting the invitation, Taiwan said it would organise a delegation.

On Wednesday, the head of Taiwan's ruling party held landmark talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung's meeting with Mr Hu was the highest-level encounter since the two sides split in 1949.

Hope of agreement

Beijing invited officials from Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation to have talks with its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait.

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

The Taiwanese foundation's chairman, Chiang Pin-kung, said he hoped that the two sides could reach agreements in Beijing.

Bilateral talks had been suspended for a decade but the election of Ma Ying-jeou as Taiwan's president in March has brought about a rapid thaw in relations.

Chinese state media Xinhua said the talks from 11-14 June would cover the issue of mainland tourists visiting Taiwan and the establishment of direct regular charter flights.

"We hope the talks will make progress on the two issues to meet the expectations of people from both sides of the Strait," Xinhua quoted the letter as saying.

I hope the Taiwanese manage to negotiate a good deal with China
Jeremy, Plymouth UK

Six-day visit

China and Taiwan held regular consultations after a "consensus" was agreed in 1992.

But the talks broke off acrimoniously as some Taiwanese politicians began to lean towards independence.

China has threatened military force should that happen.

However, ties are warming, with Mr Ma calling for a new "chapter of peace".

Wu Poh-hsiung is on a six-day landmark visit to the mainland.

He met Mr Hu 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.

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.

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