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Foreign minister says chance exists for Ma to attend APEC

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday that there is a chance that President Ma Ying-jeou will be able to attend the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Beijing.

The minister made the comments during an interpellation session at the Legislative Yuan.

Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) asked Lin if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) had begun making preparations for a meeting between Ma and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平), or if the ministry had made preparations for Ma to attend APEC.

In response, Lin said that the government receives an official invitation to APEC every year, and that the administration has consistently made plans for the president to attend the meetings.

The minister explained, however, that whether or not the president attends APEC is dependant on certain conditions.

Lin said that he of course hopes that the president can attend the meeting along with the leaders of other economies, but that cross-strait issues are at stake and require unofficial coordination between the two sides of the strait.

Lin added that MOFA will step up its efforts to make it happen.

The lawmaker further asked if Ma had a chance to attend APEC, to which Lin responded, “We of course believe that there is a chance.”

However, the president's attendance at APEC involves cross-strait issues, the minister said, who added that APEC-related affairs are chiefly handled by MOFA and cross-strait affairs by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).

KMT lawmaker Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), on the other hand, was less optimistic, saying that mainland China doesn't seem to have a reason yet to schedule a meeting between Xi and Ma.

In response, the minister explained that Taiwan enjoys the same status as mainland China at APEC, and that the president is of course eligible to attend the meetings.

However, international issues combined with cross-strait issues require the joint efforts of the MAC and other government branches, Lin said.

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