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US Welcomes Taiwan Comments on Reducing Strait Tensions

The United States says it welcomes Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's call for reducing tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

Mr. Chen called for a ban on using weapons of mass destruction across the strait, and made a new appeal to China to hold talks with Taiwan.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said Mr. Chen's comments lay a foundation for progress and offers creative ideas for reducing tensions and resuming dialogue between Beijing and Taipei. The spokesman also repeated the stance of the U.S. government that it does not support Taiwan independence.

China has rejected past overtures made by Mr. Chen, and has refused to speak with the Taiwanese leader until he agrees that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China.