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President Ma meets American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of February 1 with Raymond F. Burghardt, Chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan. The president emphasized during discussions that maintaining strong and stable relations between Taiwan and the United States is the core foreign affairs policy of the ROC. The president also expressed his hopes that negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the two countries can be resumed and that progress will be seen. He also reiterated Taiwan's goal to meet the conditions to enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership within the next decade.
In remarks at the opening of the meeting, the president first expressed his appreciation to the White House for extending congratulations after the results of the January 14 presidential election here were announced. The congratulatory message stressed that Taiwan is one of the great success stories in Asia, the president noted, adding that the ROC deeply appreciates this recognition and encouragement.
President Ma stated that relations between Taiwan and the United States have seen considerable advancements in recent years. When mainland Chinese leader Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) visited the United States last year, President Barack Obama expressed his support for Taiwan's promotion of cross-strait dialogue and reconciliation, as well as the signing of the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the APEC meetings in Honolulu, Hawaii last year also mentioned the important security and economic partnership between Taiwan and the United States. Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of State for Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell last year appeared at a hearing held by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee entitled "Why Taiwan Matters." During the hearing, he publicly stated that the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances serve as the basis for relations between Taiwan and the United States. All of these statements by high-ranking American officials, President Ma said, constitute the clearest and most constructive remarks made by the United States with regard to Taiwan in recent years.
In mentioning cooperation between the two countries, the president stated that Taiwan hopes to be able to join the US Visa Waiver Program this year, a move that would further promote bilateral interaction. President Ma said that since he took office in May 2008, the United States has approved the sale of three packages of arms to Taiwan, worth in aggregate over US$18 billion. This highlights the importance that the United States places on cooperation in the field of security. Meanwhile, Administrator Rajiv Shah of the United States Agency for International Development, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Suresh Kumar all visited Taiwan last year. The president expressed his confidence that the two countries in the future will have even greater opportunities to cooperate in international humanitarian assistance. In addition, President Ma mentioned that Taiwan and the United States also maintain close cooperation in anti-terrorism, homeland security, and non-nuclear proliferation efforts, adding that he is sure that even closer cooperation in these fields will help to enhance mutual trust.
With regard to the issue of imports of US beef, President Ma stressed that the government here understands the concern of the United States on this issue. A Cabinet reshuffle here has just been completed, with the new Cabinet scheduled to formally take office on February 6. He stated that new officials will take new approaches to their work, and the ROC intends to engage in serious discussions on this issue with the United States.
The president stated that Taiwan requires a safe and peaceful external environment. Over the past three-plus years, the government has been working hard to create the foundation for such an environment. Taiwan's relations with the United States, Japan, and mainland China are currently at the best they have been in the past 30 years, 40 years, and 60 years, respectively, he remarked. Given that the United States, mainland China, and Japan are presently the world's three largest economies, maintaining peaceful and friendly relationships with them will continue as an important basis for the ROC's foreign policy moving forward. In addition, Taiwan will look to foster even closer relations with other regions based on this foundation, he noted.
President Ma reiterated that improvements in the cross-strait relationship and Taiwan's relationship with the rest of the international community are complementary, and we are gradually seeing the formation of a virtuous cycle, he said. These developments in Taiwan's foreign policy mesh well with the government's consistently pursued approach, which calls for Taiwan, while working under the framework of the ROC Constitution, to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait via the policy of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force," as well as the 1992 Consensus, whereby each side maintains its respective definition of "one China." In the future, the government will continue to move forward based on this foundation, he said.
President Ma emphasized to Chairman Burghardt that the Taiwan-United States relationship is an important pillar to the aforementioned foundation. The ROC government places great importance on the bilateral relationship, he said, and in the future will maintain broad-based cooperation with the United States. In addition, in order to provide more insight to Chairman Burghardt on current political developments here, the president also explained that after being re-elected he pledged to exchange opinions with leaders from the opposition every six months and to hold forums with civic groups every month. He also intends to make frequent visits throughout Taiwan to better understand the wealth gap, the state of joblessness, environmental protection issues, and other topics of importance to society. In particular, he said, the latest Cabinet reshuffle reflects the importance the government places on national land planning, finance, the economy, culture, and education. In the future, all of these issues will be looked at comprehensively to formulate appropriate policies and plans, he said.
Chairman Burghardt congratulated President Ma on his re-election and praised the maturity of democracy here. He said that democracy has become a core element of Taiwan's identity. He also expressed his hopes for continued strong and friendly ties in the future, and in particular even closer cooperation in the area of trade and economic relations. He remarked that the United States will seek to assist Taiwan in participating in the latest round of Asia-Pacific economic integration.
Shortly after the meeting between President Ma and Chairman Burghardt, Vice President Vincent C. Siew met with the AIT chairman and welcomed him to Taiwan. Chairman Burghardt expressed his congratulations on the successful elections for the 13th-term president and vice president. He added that he will attend the inauguration ceremonies here in May, and said he hopes at that time to have an opportunity to again meet with Vice President Siew.
【Source: Office of the President】