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INTERVIEW-Taiwan urges China to talk politics

Written by: Staff
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TAIPEI, March 2 (Reuters) Days after scrapping guidelines on unification with China, Taiwan today called for talks with its giant neighbour, but China said it would be ''vigilant'' against any Taiwanese moves to full independence.

China refuses to deal with independence-minded Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, and Chen's scrapping of a council and guidelines focused on ultimate reunification between the two sides drew harsh warnings from Beijing.

But Taiwan's top China policy-maker said the two sides should talk. ''In order for China to better understand Taiwan, there is an urgent need for the two governments to engage each other, to talk to each other,'' Joseph Wu told Reuters.

Wu said Taipei did not rule out any form of future relations with China, as long as the decision was endorsed by the democratic island's 23 million people. It was an apparent attempt to appease a worried Washington, Taiwan's main arms supplier.

''The future is open for Taiwan. We hope the Chinese side will do it in a civilised way -- talk to Taiwan in a peaceful way in order to resolve the differences,'' said Wu, chairman of the ministerial-level Mainland Affairs Council.

He added that such talks must proceed without preconditions and on an equal footing.

China has considered Taiwan a breakaway province since their split at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. It has threatened force if the island formally declares independence.

Chen declared an end to the National Unification Council and its 15-year-old unification guidelines on Monday, defying warnings from Beijing and Washington.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao today told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Chen's act was ''a brazen provocation of the one China principle universally adhered to by the international community, and serious sabotage of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait''.

MORE REUTERS OM PM1943

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