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Mainland Affairs Council

Talks between the SEF and the ARATS in 2008

The MAC affirms the significance of the resumption of negotiations and the signing of an agreement between the SEF and the ARATS

June 14, 2008, No. 033

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairperson Lai Shin-yuan stated today (June 14, 2008) that the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) delegation has signed the "Minutes of Talks on Cross-Strait Charter Flights" and "Cross-Strait Agreement on Travel by Mainland Residents to Taiwan" with the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) after negotiations with the ARATS under the principles of parity and dignity in accordance with government's authorization. The SEF has successfully completed its mission and laid a foundation for ongoing institutionalized negotiations across the Strait. Cross-strait weekend passenger charter flights and mainland tourist visits to Taiwan are expected to begin in the near term and will provide a clear basis for follow-up negotiations on cargo charter flights.

The SEF delegation returned to Taiwan today and went directly to the MAC to present a report. In receiving the delegation, Chairperson Lai thanked SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kun and other members of the SEF delegation for their hard work. Chairperson Lai emphasized that in addition to the signing of the two agreements at the SEF-ARATS meeting, more importantly, the direct dialogue between the SEF and ARATS chairmen confirms that interaction between the two agencies has been normalized.

In his speech, Chairman Chiang sincerely thanked Chairperson Lai and MAC colleagues for their guidance and assistance in resuming negotiations between the SEF and the ARATS. He indicated that the negotiation agenda of the SEF and the ARATS would follow up issues related to the two agreements concluded during the recent meeting, such as number of flights, flight points, and flight routes for the weekend charter flights.

Chairman Chiang particularly noted that the talks and the two agreements signed represent just the beginning. Issues for follow-up negotiations will be assessed by the MAC in coordination with related ministries, and the SEF will vigorously conduct negotiations as long as it has been authorized by the MAC to do so.

Chairperson Lai stated that local and international observers have long viewed normal interaction between the SEF and the ARATS as an important indicator of the development of cross-strait relations. The ARATS chairman recently has accepted invitation from the SEF to visit Taiwan at an appropriate time. The MAC hopes that the SEF and the ARATS can make arrangements to hold the second Chiang-Chen meeting before the end of this year to further consolidate the basis for institutionalized interactions between the two sides. The MAC indicates that the government will continue through the SEF to cautiously and stably engage in communication and negotiations with the other side on issues of mutual concern in the future so as to lay an even more solid foundation for benign cross-strait interactions.