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  • Cross-strait peace key to stability in East Asia: president

    Taipei, Aug. 5 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou opened an international conference in Taipei Tuesday by touting his administration's achievements in peace across the Taiwan Strait, calling warming ties with China the foundation for stable development in East Asia.

    Taiwan-China relations are now at their best since the two sides split over 60 years ago, he said at the East China Sea Peace Forum, organized by the Taipei-based Prospect Foundation. The forum was held to mark the second anniversary of the East China Sea Peace Initiative proposed by Ma.

    He talked up improvements in relations since he took office in 2008, noting that cross-strait negotiations resumed and saying the situation across the strait has moved "from a potential battlefield of killing to plaza of peace and a market of prosperity."

    That achievement has won global recognition and is in the interest of the international community, which Ma said has given Taiwan more confidence to address cross-strait and international disputes in peaceful ways.

    In light of tensions in the East China Sea, Ma also reiterated the importance of peaceful resolutions to address disputes, citing the East China Sea Peace Initiative he proposed in August 2012.

    That proposal calls for parties with conflicting claims to the Diaoyutai Islands -- called the Diaoyu Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands by Japan, which controls them -- to shelve disputes and work together.

    He pointed to a historic fishery agreement between Taiwan and Japan signed last April, which allows fishermen from both sides to operate in a designated area of their overlapping economic waters in order to resolve long-standing fishing disputes. Ma described the agreement as an achievement of the peace initiative.

    On that same principle, he said, Taiwan is also in talks with the Philippines to sign a pact on cooperation in maritime law enforcement in order to resolve fishing disputes.

    "We will work hand in hand with all concerned parties in line with the principles of the East China Sea Peace Initiative" by establishing mechanisms for cooperation on non-traditional security issues, for preventing regional conflicts, and for promoting regional economic integration, the president said.

    Ma also expressed hope that peace in the East China Sea can be achieved as an example for similar disputes in other regions.

    "We hope the East China Sea and the South China Sea will become a sea of peace and cooperation," he added.

    Also speaking at the forum was Foreign Minister David Lin, who said territorial disputes in those two seas could undermine peace in Asia, which he called the most economically vibrant region in the world.

    "We have called on all parties concerned to replace confrontation with dialogue and to shelve territorial disputes and conduct negotiations, hopefully leading to a win-win situation," Lin said.

    Tuesday's forum brought together nearly two dozen local and foreign scholars to discuss cooperation, regional conflict prevention, economic integration, and the future prospects of the East China Sea Peace Initiative.

    Douglas H. Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, was also scheduled to give a keynote speech. He was the director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) from 2002-2006.

    AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

    (By Elaine Hou)