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China says open to military talks with Taiwan

world Updated: Apr 15, 2009 16:00 IST

AFP
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China is open to defence talks with rival Taiwan, a senior mainland official said on Wednesday, but he denied reports the two militaries would soon hold a historic meeting in the United States.

Li Weiyi, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said reports that Chinese and Taiwan military officials would gather in August in Hawaii for their first talks in 60 years were "inaccurate."

The official China Daily last month cited unnamed mainland military officials as saying a meeting between the two militaries would be held in Hawaii.

The meeting would have been the first since the two sides split.

But Li told journalists that some form of dialogue between the rival militaries would be "constructive" and could ease tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

"Cross strait military exchanges... could start with academic exchanges between experts on the issue of military security and mutual trust," Li said.

Such exchanges could also be initiated by retired servicemen from the two sides, he said.

Li also announced that the next meeting between the two semi-official bodies that handle dialogue between China and Taiwan was likely to be held in April or May.

The previous meeting between the heads of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits was held in November last year.

It led to the opening of daily passenger flights across the Taiwan Strait along with other transport links.

China views Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. The two sides have been governed separately since they split at the end of a civil war in 1949.

But relations between the two sides have improved dramatically since China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president last May.

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