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Ma welcomes Wen to visit as tourist after retirement

TAIPEI -- President Ma Ying-jeou said Sunday that mainland Premier Wen Jiabao could visit Taiwan under the free independent traveler program for Chinese tourists, if he would like to do so after he retires.

Ma was responding to a reporter's question on the issue, in light of Wen's statement in March that he would be willing to visit Taiwan as a tourist after retirement.

“But it depends on circumstance at the time,” the premier said at a press conference after the annual session of his country's parliament.

Wen, along with other Chinese leaders, are expected to begin handing over power to new leadership later this year.

Meanwhile, Ma said the interaction between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has to be expanded.

In the next four years, the two sides of the strait have to open up new areas of cooperation and continue working to consolidate peace, expand prosperity and deepen mutual trust, he said in his inaugural address.

He said the achievement of the mutual trust and cooperation between Taiwan and China was exemplified by a recent situation in which Chinese police swiftly recovered a medal of a late general of Taiwan, which was allegedly stolen by a Chinese tourist in Kinmen.

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