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First Straits talks in 9 years open
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Chiang Pin-kun (L), chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), shakes hands with Chen Yunlin, chairman of mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), at the start of a cross-Straits talks in Beijing June 12, 2008.

The chairmen of the Chinese mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) on Thursday convened their first talks in nine years.

ARATS chairman Chen Yunlin and SEF chairman Chiang Pin-kun started their talks at around 9 a.m. in Beijing.

Chen Yunlin said, "Since March this year, positive changes have taken place in cross-Strait relations."

"As wished by people on the two sides, the talks resumed today after nearly 10 years' suspension.

"At this important historical moment, we must remember the late ARATS chairman Wang Daohan and SEF chairman Koo Chen-fu when we shake hands," he said.

"Though they have passed away, their contributions to the improvement in cross-Strait relations are engraved on our minds," he said.

"We will carry on their unfinished tasks."

"We feel the great responsibility of this glorious mission and we must spare no effort in realizing the aspirations of people on the two sides," he said.

The ARATS and SEF are authorized non-governmental organizations engaged in talks on issues related to exchanges across the Taiwan Strait.

The ARATS was established in Beijing on Dec. 16, 1991, aimed at promoting cross-Strait exchanges, developing cross-Strait relations and realizing a peaceful reunification of China.

The SEF was established in Taipei on Nov. 21, 1990. It was authorized by the Mainland Affairs Council under the "Executive Yuan" of Taiwan to deal with cross-Strait affairs deemed "inconvenient" for the Taiwan authority to handle.

Chen expressed his hope that the ARATS and SEF could reach consensus and sign an agreement as soon as possible during the talks.

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