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June 23, 2017

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US supports Taipei-Beijing dialogue: official

WASHINGTON--A senior White House official on Wednesday deflected a question on a possible top-level meeting between Taiwan and China, saying only that the United States continues to support dialogue across the Taiwan Strait.

The United States supports cross-strait dialogue and encourages Taiwan and China to take constructive measures on general bilateral exchanges proposed by their respective presidents, Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping, said Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for strategic communications.

As a friend of both Taiwan and China, the United States wishes to see a reduction of tensions and the pursuit of closer ties and benefits for the people on the both sides, he said in response to suggestions about a meeting between Ma and Xi, during a press briefing in Washington.

Such a meeting would obviously have to be agreed on by both sides, he said.

On the whole, he said, the United States continues to support dialogue across the Taiwan Strait and the deepening of cross-strait ties.

Whether top-level cross-strait dialogue takes place will ultimately be determined by the two leaders, Rhodes said.

The United States will make an assessment when there has been a decision and will wait to see the results of any such dialogue, he added.

There have been suggestions in Taipei that the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, to be held in Beijing in October this year, would present an opportunity for Ma to represent Taiwan at the forum for the first time and to meet with his Chinese counterpart.

In an interview with Hong Kong based Asia Weekly magazine in December, Ma said he would be willing to attend the APEC meeting and suggested that the issue of his official title could be sidestepped as the heads of delegations to the meeting are usually referred to as "leaders" instead of presidents or prime ministers.

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