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Germany Calls for Dialogue Between Taiwan and China

German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier said Sunday, March 23, he hoped for a "peaceful dialogue" between Taipei and Beijing after the election of a new Taiwanese president favoring closer ties with China.

Supporters of Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party on Saturday, March 22

Supporters of Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party on Saturday

"The German government hails the election in Taiwan. Germany supports the democratic values of Taiwan and the economic development of the island," Steinmeier said in a statement.

"In the interest of peace and security in the region, we hope now for a peaceful dialogue between the two parties, that could lead to a lasting resolution of the situation."

German ties with China have been strained again after a recent improvement due to Beijing's harsh crackdown on protests over its rule in Tibet. Steinmeier has urged China to open up regarding the violence and has said he would not rule out a boycott by western politicians of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games this summer.

Closer ties

Taiwan's president-elect Ma Ying-jeou

Taiwan's president-elect Ma Ying-jeou

Taiwan's president-elect Ma Ying-jeou, buoyed by a landslide election win on Saturday, said he wanted a "non-denial" agreement that would allow Taiwan and China -- which claims sovereignty over the island -- to exist side by side.

The Harvard-educated opposition Kuomintang (KMT) candidate promised to work for warmer relations, pressing for closer trade ties, direct air and tourism links and a peace treaty that would end decades of hostilities since Taiwan split from the mainland in 1949.

The election had been closely watched by world leaders for signs of a new approach after eight years of heightened tensions under outgoing president Chen Shui-bian.

Panda gift

On Sunday, Ma approved the Taipei Zoo's acceptance of two giant pandas from China, which the previous Taiwan government had blocked.

The two giant pandas for Taiwan: Tuan tuan and Yuan Yuan

The two giant pandas for Taiwan: "Tuan Tuan" and "Yuan Yuan"

Chinese President Hu Jintao had offered the pair of giant pandas to Taiwan in 2005, but the previous government had delayed the zoo's import application, fearful Beijing was trying to woo Taiwanese.

Now that the gift has been accepted, the two pandas may arrive in Taiwan later this year.

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