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This article originally appeared on the Office of the President Republic of China (Taiwan)’s Website.

On the afternoon of June 22 during a meeting with former United States National Security Advisor General James Jones, President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated his hopes that Taiwan and the United States can restart bilateral negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). He furthermore expressed his hope that the dispute over US beef imports will be resolved at an early date so that Taiwan-US trade relations can move forward.

In remarks, the president stated that the government will continue working to create the conditions to enable Taiwan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) within the next eight years. He stated that the resumption of Taiwan-US TIFA negotiations will provide an important foundation from which Taiwan could move toward joining the TPP. The government, he said, will make every effort to achieve this objective.

President Ma also explained to General Jones that since taking office he has embraced the principle of “low key, no surprises” in promoting relations between Taiwan and the United States and re-establishing mutual trust at the highest levels. Four years of efforts have already yielded concrete achievements, he pointed out, including US President Barack Obama’s decision in September 2011 to sell packages of arms to upgrade Taiwan’s F-16A/B fighter jets; visits to Taiwan by high-ranking American officials such as United States Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah and Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman; and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s remarks made during the APEC leader summit in November 2011 stressing that Taiwan is an important security and economic partner of the United States. The president also stated that Taiwan hopes to be included in the US Visa Waiver Program in the second half of this year. All of these developments, he said, prove that relations between the two countries are the best they have been in nearly 30 years.

The president stressed that since assuming his position, he has strived to promote reconciliation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, seeking to forge peaceful bilateral ties under the framework of the ROC Constitution, based on the principle of “no unification, no independence, and no use of force.” In this process, he has looked to the “1992 Consensus” – whereby each side acknowledges the existence of “one China,” but maintains its own interpretation of what that means – as the basis of ties between the two sides. Over the past four years, 16 agreements have been signed between the two sides, and cross-strait ties are the best they have been in nearly 60 years, he said. In the future, the government will continue to carefully maintain the existing achievements while seeking to foster economic development and enhance social wellbeing on the basis of this peaceful and stable relationship, he added.

In response to the frequent statements made by the United States expressing its willingness to establish even stronger relations with Asian nations, President Ma stated that the United States has consistently been an important force for stability in Asia. The president said that Taiwan not only welcomes this development, but also desires to further strengthen its interaction with the United States on the economic, trade, security, and cultural fronts. He also expressed his hopes that the United States will continue to support and provide assistance to Taiwan in its efforts to have meaningful participation in international organizations and activities.

The delegation, which was led by former National Security Advisor and Chairman-Designate of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security General James Jones, also included Atlantic Council Senior Fellow John Raidt, and Atlantic Council Assistant Director Riley Barnes. The group met with the president in the afternoon at the Presidential Office. Also attending the meeting were National Security Council Secretary-General Hu Wei-jen (胡為真), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tung Kuoyu (董國猷), and Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), Director-General of the Department of North American Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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