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June 22, 2017

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President Ma, Lee Teng-hui decline DPP meet invites

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou and his predecessor Lee Teng-hui have both declined to attend a conference that the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is organizing to discuss national affairs.

Ma has decided against taking part in the conference after seeing DPP lawmakers stage a serious disruption of Premier Liu Chao-shiuan's policy address yesterday, presidential spokesman Wang Yu-chi said.

Ma had originally planned to go, but he has realized that under the present circumstances his presence at the event would be meaningless, Wang said.

The DPP and minor opposition party Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) are organizing the conference, slated for today, to try to seek national consensuses on various sensitive or pressing issues, including cross-strait ties and the economy.

DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen and her TSU counterpart Hang Ku-hui yesterday paid former President Lee a visit to extend an invitation to the conference.

But Lee, who inspired the founding of the TSU, declined the invitation, citing his age.

He said the future of the nation should now be handled by younger generations.

In response to Ma's refusal, DPP lawmakers said the president was only looking for an excuse not to attend a meeting that he had never sincerely wanted to join.

DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang said the invitation had been extended to Ma a long time ago, and he could have made a decision earlier.

"But just a day before the conference, he cited the protest at the Legislature to decline the invitation. That shows he is insincere," said Cheng.

Asked how the DPP and TSU would convey to the government the conclusions reached at the conference, Cheng said the opposition camp would not consider how it could do it until the Cabinet was disbanded.

The presidential spokesman said Ma would not be sending any representatives to the conference.

But he stressed that Ma has not given up hope of meeting with Tsai in order to defuse the tensions between the government and the opposition camp.

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