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Cross-Straits agreements earn applause
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Kuomintang Honorary Chairman, Lien Chan, proposes a toast for the visit of ARATS' President Chen Yunlin and his delegation at a welcoming banquet in Taipei on Tuesday evening, November 4, 2008. [Photo: cnsphoto] 

Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) honorary chairman Lien Chan said Tuesday that the new agreements between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan "earn a real applause" and could benefit both sides.

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Lien held a banquet in Taipei to welcome the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) President Chen Yunlin and his delegation.

"From a historical perspective, Chen's visit realizes a decade-old wish of President Wang Daohan and Chairman Koo Chen-fu, announces the establishment of an institutionalized consultation channel, and strengthens the base of cross-Straits mutual development and mutual benefits, " Lien said in his address.

In April 1993, late ARATS President Wang and Koo, late chairman of Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), held a historic "Wang-Koo meeting" in Singapore. It was the first public meeting between leaders of the two organizations.

Lien said Chen's current visit also symbolized a great step toward establishing mutual trust and achieving a win-win situation.

Chen and SEF chairman Chiang Pin-kung signed agreements on direct shipping and flights, postal services and food safety during their first summit in Taipei on Tuesday.

The agreements were expected to end a situation that has prevailed since 1949, which required air and sea movements between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan to go through a third place.

Lien, then KMT chairman, held a historic meeting with Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, in 2005, the first such meeting after six decades.

Lien said he was honored to build a "shared vision" with Hu for the cross-Straits peaceful development. The three ensuing CPC-KMT forums, which had 48 fruitful deals, had greatly promoted cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation in fields such as economy, trade, culture, education and youth exchanges.

The ARATS delegation's visit was a key step in history, he said.

Chen said in his address that his "best dream of his life" was to sign the four agreements together with Chiang "on the lovely earth of Taiwan".

"For such a visit, many great efforts have been made ... and the ARATS and the SEF have signed six deals over the past five months, completing tasks that may take 60 years to achieve. The Taiwan side has made positive efforts," he said.

Three of the four deals signed on Tuesday concerned cross-Straits issues of "three direct links" of shipping, flights and postal services, which was "good news" for compatriots on both sides, Chen said.

"The future will tell that it is a right decision which would bring benefits to people on both sides," he said, adding the result would also comfort Wang and Koo who had passed away.

The ARATS and and SEF would "bravely move on with steadier steps" so as to open a new era of peaceful development across the Straits, Chen said.

Taiwan's mainland affairs department chief Lai Shin-yuan said when meeting with Chen that "the mainland and Taiwan could solve misunderstandings step by step so long as the two sides could tolerate and understand each other".

She said the two high-level meetings between the two organizations in less than five months showed their strong willingness in shelving disputes, facing reality and vigorously improving ties.

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