CHINA> Taiwan, HK, Macao
Taiwan chief negotiator agrees to stay in position
Updated: 2009-05-09 10:10

TAIPEI -- Taiwan chief negotiator Chiang Pin-kung, who had tendered his resignation as chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) earlier, on Friday agreed to stay on.

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Chiang told a press conference here he was willing to stay and finish the ongoing work.

He said when he met Chen Yunlin, president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits(ARATS) in Nanjing last month, he had invited him to Taiwan for a new round of talks, and he would keep the promise.

Chiang, who will turn 77 this December, told the media on Wednesday that he decided to resign because of his "age" and "physical strength".

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou, however, said he wouldn't endorse the decision and had returned Chiang's written resignation.

Ma paid a visit to Chiang and SEF members Friday afternoon, praised their work and persuaded Chiang to stay on.

Chiang said he would act in the general interest and make the right decision.

Chiang was appointed chairman of the Taiwan-based SEF, a non-governmental organization authorized to handle cross-straits affairs, after Ma became the leader of Taiwan in May 2008.

Chiang and Chen had held three talks since June 2008, leading to the signing of the historic agreements allowing direct flights, shipping and postal services across the straits, and opening the island to mainland tourists.

In the latest round of talks between the SEF and the ARATS held in Nanjing of eastern Jiangsu Province in late April, the two sides also agreed to cooperate in finance and justice.