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ARATS chief says no politics involved in talks
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The Chinese mainland's chief negotiator on Taiwan affairs, Chen Yunlin, said Taipei Monday that his upcoming talks with Taiwan representatives will not involve political issues.

"The goals of the meeting are clear and well-defined," said Chen, president of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) at a welcoming ceremony held by the Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

"No cross-strait political issues will be involved, nor will the island's internal political affairs," he said.

Chen arrived in Taipei on Monday at noon, starting a five-day historic visit to the island.

On Tuesday morning, Chen is expected to hold talks with SEF chairman Chiang Pin-kung. It will be the second meeting between them in less than six months.

Chen said they will discuss cross-straits direct shipping, air transport, postal services, food safety and tourism. They are also expected to exchange views on the economic impact of the international financial crisis.

The two will also make arrangements for their next meeting in 2009.

ARATS and SEF are expected to sign agreements on Tuesday afternoon and hold press conferences, according to the schedule.

Chen's visit marks the first ever visit by an ARATS chief to Taiwan since the organization was founded in 1991.

SEF chairman Chiang said Chen's visit to Taiwan was historical as well as a key step in achieving peace and mutual economic benefit.

He believed their talks would yield fruitful results.

On Monday afternoon, Chen is scheduled to visit the widow of Koo Chen-fu, the former SEF chairman who passed away in 2005.

Founded in 1991 and 1990 respectively, the ARATS and the SEF are authorized by the mainland and Taiwan to handle cross-straits exchanges.

Negotiations between the two were suspended for almost 10 years until this June, when Chen and Chiang held their first meeting in Beijing.

(Xinhua News Agency November 3, 2008)

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