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  • Dialogue instrumental to peace in East China Sea: president

    Taipei, Jan. 31 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Thursday dialogue is essential to peace in the East China Sea, noting that his peace initiative is a pragmatic approach that seeks to lay a framework for dialogue.

    Ma outlined a two-stage approach Sept. 7, 2012 to tackle the simmering sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea, saying negotiations among the three claimants to the islets -- Taiwan, Japan and China -- can begin along three parallel tracks.

    Those discussions would then converge into single track trilateral negotiations over their conflicting claims to the uninhabited island chain, which lies closer to Taiwan than to either China or Japan.

    Ma proposed the triangular dialogue format for the first time during a visit to the Pengjia Islet, the part of Taiwan closest to the Diaoyutais.

    He said at a tea party with journalists Thursday that the approach has since gained ever increasing international media attention.

    Even Japanese news media has paid attention to the initiative, Ma said, referring to a Jan. 8 Japan Times editorial that urged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration to pay serious attention to Ma's call for talks among China, Taiwan and Japan for joint development of the seas around the disputed island cluster, known as Senkaku Islands in Japan.

    Ma said that while sovereignty cannot be shared, resources can be divided.

    "Our initiative has provided a pragmatic and feasible framework to address the Diaoyutai issue and we believe that only such an approach can truly realize our goal of maintaining peace in the region," Ma said.

    Pointing out that China and Japan have begun contact over the issue, Ma said Taiwan and Japan have also been negotiating a fishery agreement to protect Taiwanese fishermen operating in the Diaoyutai waters.

    "As long as talks begin, it will certainly contribute to regional peace," he added.

    Ma's peace initiative called for all parties to refrain from aggression, shelve their differences, maintain dialogue, observe international law and to resolve the dispute by peaceful means.

    He also called for all sides to seek consensus on a code of conduct for the East China Sea, and establish a mechanism for cooperation on exploring and developing resources in the region.

    (By Kelven Huang and Sofia Wu)