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Chinese Leaders, Rice Discuss US-Taiwan Ties - 2004-07-09


China's leaders have stressed their concerns about U.S. ties with Taiwan to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Ms. Rice wrapped up two days of meetings with Chinese officials before heading to South Korea, the next stop of her Asian tour.

President Hu Jintao hosted National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice at Beijing's Great Hall of the People. Immediately after greeting her in a large reception hall, the Chinese President said he hoped the two days of consultations would help resolve the issue of Taiwan. China considers the island its territory.

"I think [these talks] are helpful for you to get a comprehensive understanding about the great importance that we attach to the development of U.S.-China relations and also our serious concern over the question of Taiwan," president Hu said.

China strongly objects to U.S. weapons sales to the democratic, self-governed island.

Thursday, Ms. Rice met with the chief of the Chinese military commission, former President Jiang Zemin, who remains highly influential in the country's politics. Chinese state media quoted Mr. Jiang as saying he expressed strong displeasure at Washington's ties with Taiwan. A U.S. official traveling with Ms. Rice says she addressed China's concerns by reaffirming Washington does not support outright independence for Taiwan.

In greeting President Hu on Friday Ms. Rice conveyed a message from President Bush, saying the United States wants to continue dialogue on a wide range of issues.

"Our relationship is developing in a very positive way and the president wants very much to make certain that we have continuous discussions about our relationship," Ms. Rice said.

U.S. officials say Taiwan was one of several issues that the two sides discussed, with North Korea also taking up much of the agenda. Ms. Rice encouraged China to support Washington's demand that Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear programs.

China has been hosting six nation talks on the issue and is one of the few countries to have influence with North Korea.

U.S. officials said the national security advisor also raised the topic of human rights and repeated the Bush administration's calls for greater religious freedom.

Condoleezza Rice's meeting with the Chinese president was the last of her two-day visit to Beijing. Her Asian tour began Wednesday in Japan. She is to meet with South Korea's president late before leaving Asia.

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