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Xi meeting will maintain status quo with China, Taiwan's Ma says

Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 10:29
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Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou smiles while listening to a question near a portrait of Sun Yat-sen, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China, during an interview with Reuters at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan on Oct 1, 2015.

[TAIPEI] Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said his historic meeting with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Saturday would help preserve the current cooperative relationship between the two former civil wars and foster future negotiations.

The ability to have the face-to-face encounter shows how much cross-straight relations have matured, Mr Ma said in his first public remarks about the decision. The Taiwanese president said China had rebuffed his request to hold the tete-a-tete on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum this year.

The meeting - the first in seven decades between top leaders from both sides - would provide a new high-water mark in a relationship that has long been at the center of tensions between China and the US.

The face-to-face encounter, which Mr Ma was seeking before he leaves office next year, would help Communist Party leaders in Beijing preserve the economic ties that flourished during Mr Ma's tenure and shake-up the race to elect his successor in Taiwan.

Top leaders from the two camps haven't met since Mao Zedong and then-KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek raised their glasses to toast the defeat of the Japanese in 1945 before resuming their civil war.

Four years later, Chiang fled to Taiwan, beginning 66 years of separate rule marked by occasional flare-ups and no formal peace deal.

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