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Mainland Hopeful for Cross-Straits Agricultural Forum
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The Chinese mainland is hoping the Taiwan authorities will allow a delegation of officials to attend the upcoming cross-Straits forum on agricultural cooperation, a mainland spokesman said in Beijing on Monday.

The forum is an important channel between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Kuomintang Party (KMT) and is different from the usual exchanges and visits between high-level officials of the two sides, according to a spokesman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits.

The mainland wants to send a delegation led by Chen Yunlin, director of the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee, but their application was rejected by Taiwan last year because of the suspension of negotiations between the two sides, the spokesman said.

However, Chen's delegation would not be involved in issues other than agricultural cooperation, and would have nothing to do with the resumption of cross-Straits negotiations or other talks between the two sides.

The mainland hopes the Taiwan authorities would permit Chen's delegation to attend the forum, said the spokesman, adding that details of the visit would be discussed with appropriate officials once the visit was confirmed.

Chen was invited to the forum twice last November by Taiwan's Foundation for Exchange Across the Taiwan Straits, but his application to attend was rejected by the Taiwan authorities the same month. The mainland association therefore thought it pointless to respond to further invitations at that time, the spokesman said.

The mainland has been trying to promote exchange and economic cooperation since cross-Straits talks were suspended in 2000, the spokesman noted.

The forum is just one example of inter-party exchange planned by the CPC and the KMT.

(Xinhua News Agency August 29, 2006)

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