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President Ma meets former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Mrs. Huntsman

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the evening of July 17 with former governor of the US state of Utah Jon Huntsman and Mrs. Huntsman. During the discussions, the president emphasized that the government is making every effort to resolve the issue of US beef imports to Taiwan. The ROC hopes to resume negotiations with the United States on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) as soon as possible, thereby paving the way for new developments in bilateral trade and investment, he said.
In remarks, President Ma stated that former Governor Huntsman sent a message to him the day following the conclusion of the January 14 presidential and legislative elections that were held here, congratulating him on election to another term. In the message, the former governor also recognized the democratic development of Taiwan, for which President Ma said he was grateful. The president commented that mainland Chinese tourists and students in Taiwan at the time were able to personally see the elections take place. In addition, the mainland Chinese public was also able to view the course of elections here via the Internet. Both of these were unprecedented developments, he noted.
In turning the topic to cross-strait relations, President Ma explained to former Governor Huntsman that in his inauguration address in May of this year, he expressed his desire for private groups from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to be able to engage in a dialogue on democracy and human rights. He said that cross-strait interaction should not be limited to trade, investment and culture, but rather it should include the areas of democracy and human rights. The president stressed that since taking office, he has been promoting the development of peace between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait under the framework of the ROC Constitution, according to the status quo of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force," and on the foundation of the "1992 Consensus" that stipulates "one China, respective interpretations." Efforts made in this regard over the past four years have helped to reduce tensions between the two sides and have promoted bilateral understanding and trust, he noted. At the same time, warmer relations between Taiwan and mainland China have paved the way for improved relations between Taiwan and the United States, Japan, and the European Union, he said, enabling the international community to realize that the pragmatic policies embraced by Taiwan are conducive to international and regional peace.
In discussing Taiwan-US relations, the president remarked that trust has gradually been restored at the highest levels since he took office. Taiwan continues to operate according to a principle of "low key, no surprises," which he said is helping the relationship between the two to continue to move forward. The United States has agreed to sell three packages of defensive arms to Taiwan, while US Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius during last year's World Health Assembly stressed that United Nations-affiliated organizations cannot unilaterally decide the status of Taiwan, the president stated. In addition, Taiwan and the United States have maintained close cooperation in areas such as anti-terrorism, anti-proliferation, anti-piracy, and the prevention of human trafficking and of transshipment of narcotics. These joint efforts have yielded considerable results, he added.
President Ma also pointed out that to date 128 countries and areas throughout the world offer visa-free courtesies or land visas to ROC nationals. He expressed his hopes that in the near future the United States will formally include Taiwan in its Visa Waiver Program, which would provide greater convenience to the over 400,000 visitors from Taiwan to the United States annually.
Besides reiterating his hopes that TIFA negotiations can be resumed at an early date, the president also stated that Taiwan is currently in talks with Singapore and New Zealand on economic cooperation agreements. Taiwan is hoping that these pacts will help it prepare for eventual participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, thereby preventing it from being marginalized amid the trend toward regional economic integration.
Former Governor Huntsman and Mrs. Huntsman were accompanied to the Presidential Office by American Institute in Taiwan Taipei Office Director William A. Stanton to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting were National Security Council Secretary-General Hu Wei-jen (胡為真) and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tung Kuoyu (董國猷).
【Source: Office of the President】