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Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 22:34

President Xi to meet Taiwan leader in S'pore

By Xinhua
President Xi to meet Taiwan leader in S'pore

A combination of pictures made on November 3, 2015 shows China's President Xi Jinping attending a meeting of the second Understanding China Conference in Beijing on November 3, 2015 (left ) and Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou listening to questions during an interview with the international press in Santo Domingo, on July 12, 2015. ( AFP PHOTO / ERIKA SANTELICES / JASON LEE)

BEIJING/NANJING - Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, is scheduled to meet Taiwan's leader Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore on Nov 7 to discuss cross-Straits issues, a Chinese mainland Taiwan affairs official said Wednesday in Beijing.

It will be the first meeting of its kind between the two sides since the Chinese civil war (1946-49).

Xi and Ma will shake hands in their historic meeting scheduled in Singapore on Saturday, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said Wednesday.

The two-part meeting includes one session open to media and another behind closed doors, said Zhang Zhijun, who is also head of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, in an interview at the Zijinshan Summit for Entrepreneurs across the Taiwan Strait.

The two leaders will greet each other with the honorific "mister" in their meeting, Zhang said.

According to Zhang, Xi and Ma, in their capacity as "leaders of the two sides" of the Taiwan Strait, will exchange views during the closed-door meeting.

After the meeting, press conferences will be held by both sides. Later, the two leaders are expected to attend a dinner, said Zhang.

Zhang said the meeting will elevate cross-Strait communication to a new high and improve ties.

The landmark meeting is a breakthrough in face-to-face exchange and communication between the leaders across the Taiwan Strait after the relationship became strained following the events of 1949.

Zhang said the meeting will improve mutual trust and allow for an exchange of opinions on handling the cross-Strait ties.

In addition, the meeting will help consolidate the 1992 Consensus, which was reached in talks between the two sides in 1992 and endorses the one-China principle, and safeguards the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties, according to Zhang.

Zhang added that the scheduled meeting will also benefit regional peace and stability.

Zhang described the meeting is a "milestone" for cross-Strait relations, a breakthrough in direct exchange and communication between the two leaders, after hardships and twists since 1949.

The two sides across the Strait used to have drastic military conflicts and sharp political confrontation, till in the late 1980s when the two sides broke the ice in mutual isolation, Zhang said.

In early years of the 21st century, Zhang said, provocations from the Taiwan secessionist forces created such a crisis that it was inconcievable that leaders from both sides of the Strait would meet each other face to face.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement: "The mainland's attitude on a meeting between leaders from both sides of the Taiwan Straits is positive and consistent. If there is news on this, we will issue it in a timely manner."

Also at Wednesday's summit, Chiang Pin-kung, former chair of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation, hailed the upcoming meeting between the two leaders as a milestone for cross-Strait ties.

Chiang told media that he believed the meeting will give a boost to the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties.

Xi will visit Vietnam and Singapore during Nov 5 to 7, which comes ahead of the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by year end.

Xi's Singapore trip, during Nov 6 to 7, is scheduled after his state visit to Vietnam. He will meet Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and attend the signing ceremonies of cooperation pacts on finance, education, technology and urban governance.

Ma will then fly to Singapore to meet with Xi, the Taiwan authorities said in a statement.

In April 2005, Hu Jintao, then general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, and then Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) Party Chairman Lien Chan had the first meeting between top leaders of the two political parties in 60 years.

They met as heads of their respective parties at that time.

"The meeting between Xi and Ma results from concerted efforts of both sides and all compatriots benefiting from accumulated fruits achieved in the peaceful development of the cross-Strait relations," Zhang said.

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