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June 26, 2017

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Ma's peace initiative the only actual attempt to solve islet row: Armitage

TAIPEI--An initiative proposed by Taiwan is "the only real attempt" to solve the dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands, a former senior U.S. official said yesterday, adding that he expects the proposal to receive more attention if tension rises further in the region.

The East China Sea Peace Initiative proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou last August "is the only proposal out there" and "it seems like the only real attempt to try to resolve the situation," said Richard Armitage, a former U.S. deputy secretary of state.

Armitage, who said the Diaoyutais issue was among various topics discussed during a meeting with Ma earlier in the day, told CNA that he feels the situation between Taiwan and Japan is "eminently resolvable."

On the issue of tension between Japan and China over the disputed islands, however, he said it "may last for a while." Both in Beijing and Tokyo, "it is such a large, domestic issue that it cannot be resolved in the near future," he added.

Asked about possible ways out of the current dilemma over the Diaoyutais, which involves Taiwan, Japan and China, Armitage said that one possibility could be Ma's peace proposal, which underlines the idea that while sovereignty cannot be shared, resources can.

"That may be a way to solve it," he said, although the temperature between China and Japan would first have to come down to a level at which they could talk reasonably with each other.

He went on to say that Taiwan, Japan, China and the United States are all alert to the problem of the Diaoyutais, but other countries are less aware of the problem.

"But if it heats up, then people may awaken to the fact that the only proposal out there is President Ma Ying-jeou's," he said.

The Diaoyutais lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan. They have been under Japan's control since 1972 but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

Amid the tension in the region over the territorial dispute, Ma announced the initiative under which the parties involved would shelve their differences and jointly develop and explore the area's resources.

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