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July 24, 2017

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Ma seeks trilateral Tiaoyutais dialogue

President Ma Ying-jeou called for the establishment of a three-way dialogue mechanism between Taiwan, mainland China and Japan in order to peacefully resolve the long-simmering sovereignty row over the Tiaoyutai Islands yesterday during his visit to a Taiwan-controlled islet near the disputed island chain.

Making an address as he visited Pengjia Islet (彭佳嶼), which is one of the northernmost Taiwan-controlled islets, Ma said the trilateral dialogue mechanism could ultimately be realized by making use of the existing two-way communication platforms between each of the three parties involved.

After a consensus is reached with the currently operational mutual dialogue platforms between Taiwan-China, Taiwan-Japan, and China-Japan, the three sides could gradually move forward to a single meeting with all parties present, Ma added.

The president made the proposal yesterday as part of an action plan and follow-up in relation to his East China Sea Peace Initiative which was put forward last month to resolve the sovereignty dispute over the Tiaoyutais.

No Plan to Visit Tiaoyutais: Ma

Ma's visit to Pengjia yesterday, which is located 33 nautical miles off Taiwan's northernmost tip and 76 nautical miles west of the Tiaoyutais, comes amid media reports that the Japanese government has decided to buy three islets in the island group from their private owner to underscore its claim.

The visit, Ma's first-ever tour to Pengjia in his capacity as president, was seen as a concrete move by the government to reaffirm the country's sovereignty over the disputed island chain.

Asked to comment on Tokyo's move to purchase the island chain, Ma said yesterday that Taiwan does not recognize any move by the Japanese government to nationalize the islands.

The president stressed that Taiwan deeply cherishes its friendship with Japan and does not wish the incident to affect bilateral ties.

Ma, responding to questions from the media, said he has no immediate plan to visit the Tiaoyutais to assert the nation's sovereignty claim. He emphasized his hopes that the escalating conflicts can be solved through peaceful means.

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