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Taiwan's political parties honor mainland team at banquets
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The chairmen of two political parties in Taiwan held banquets in Taipei on Wednesday to honor members of a mainland delegation which arrived on Monday for cross-Straits talks.

The delegation, headed by the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) president Chen Yunlin, finished a historic meeting with Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) on Tuesday, in which the two sides signed four agreements on food safety, direct shipping and flights, and mail services.

The People First Party chairman, James Soong, held the banquet at the Grand Hotel in Taipei where the cross-Straits talks were held, saying that the meeting had opened a new era in the cross-Straits relationship.

"Both the mainland and Taiwan have shown great sincerity and determination to overcome difficulties and obstacles," Soong said. "The meeting will show the world that peace is a common interest of both sides."

Soong led a delegation of his party to visit the mainland in May 2005 to "build a bridge" for the two sides to develop the relationship. "The bridge has been built after three years of effort," Soong told the mainland delegation.

The two organizations resumed contact in Beijing in June 2008 after a nearly nine-year suspension and agreed to hold a meeting in Taiwan, the first contact for their current leaders in the island.

Chen Yunlin said in his speech to the banquet that his delegation's visit would be a new start of the two organizations' regular negotiations.

He believed that the two organizations would make new progress in their negotiations on the basis of mutual trust, benefit and laying aside disputes.

He also said the two sides should cherish the hard-earned improving cross-Straits relationship, which had been uneven for more than a decade. Chinese people living on both sides would never forget the important contributions made by Soong and his party's delegation to the improvement.

After Soong's reception, the chairman of Taiwan's ruling party Kuomintang Wu Poh-hsiung also held a banquet for the mainland delegation in the evening.

Before the mainland delegation's arrival, Wu had stressed that the achievement the two organizations made at the meeting would be beneficial to the island.

(Xinhua News Agency November 6, 2008)

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