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Legislative speaker cancels 5th round of talks

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Hopes for a long-awaited resolution to the impasse over a service trade pact with China were stymied Saturday when Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng canceled a fifth round of negotiations with the ruling and opposition party caucuses ahead of a rally against the agreement scheduled for the following day.

Wang and other senior lawmakers wanted to first hear what President Ma Ying-jeou will say on the dispute in a press conference scheduled for later in the evening, according to an analysis in a local newspaper.

The occupation of the Legislature entered its 12th day after student-led protesters against the cross-Taiwan Strait agreement stormed and occupied the government building March 18.

Four rounds of talks between the ruling and opposition party caucuses in the last week have fallen through.

Opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lai Zhen-chang, who had been planning on going to the meeting at Wang's residence, cited two reasons for the cancellation.

First, he said, the president's press conference was postponed to 6 p.m. and second, the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) declared that it would not take part in the consultations.

Lai said that according to Wang's office, a new timeframe for the consultations will be set only after the conclusion of Ma's press conference and the protest rally planned for Sunday afternoon.

The ruling Kuomintang's (KMT's) head of policy committee, Lin Hung-chih, and DPP legislative caucus whip Gao Jyh-peng, both confirmed that they had received the cancellation notice.

The consultations were supposed to find a way to end the occupation and to handle the service trade pact, which the students have demanded be returned to the administration before a new law providing close scrutiny of any such agreements is enacted.

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