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LEAD: Taiwan's KMT chairman to meet Hu in Beijing.

TAIPEI, May 17 Kyodo

(EDS: UPDATING WITH DETAILS)

The chairman of Taiwan's soon-to-be ruling Nationalist Party (KMT), Wu Po-hsiung, has accepted an invitation to visit Beijing and meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao in a historic meeting this month, KMT Secretary General Wu Den-yi said Saturday.

''For the sake of promoting stable ties across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan's security and the interests of her 23 million people...(Chairman Wu) feels he should accept this invitation,'' Wu Den-yi told reporters at KMT headquarters in Taipei.

Beijing invited Wu Po-hsiung earlier this month for a first-ever meeting between a Taiwanese ruling party chairman and China's paramount leader.

Wu Po-hsiung will depart Taipei for Beijing on May 26 for ''party-to-party talks'' with Hu, who is also general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and a visit to Shanghai to meet with Taiwanese businesspeople based there, local media reported, citing Chinese state media and anonymous KMT officials.

The visit will last six days and include a large KMT entourage, they said.

Wu Den-yi declined to confirm such details, saying, ''Both sides are still hammering out itinerary specifics.''

Beijing's invitation came after a recent string of meetings between KMT heavyweights and Hu in China.

Taiwanese Vice President-elect Vincent Siew met with Hu at the China-hosted Boao Forum for Asia last month in the island province of Hainan.

Former KMT chairman Lien Chan and some Taiwanese lawmakers also met with Hu in Beijing just weeks later.

But the upcoming meeting between Wu Po-hsiung and Hu is expected to add a new layer of political significance to cross-strait exchanges as it will mark the first time that China's top leader meets with the chairman of Taiwan's ruling party amid 57 years of cross-strait tension.

China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, with the KMT retreating to and ruling Taiwan, while the CCP established its government in Beijing.

China has since claimed Taiwan as part of its territory, but the island has governed itself and insists on deciding its own political future.

In 2000, Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party swept to power on the back of democratic reforms on the island, making the KMT an opposition party. On Tuesday, however, President-elect Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT will be inaugurated, restoring ruling-party status to the KMT.

Ma won the island's March 22 presidential election on the back of vows to improve ties with rival China.

Ma has been in close contact with Wu Po-hsiung and the KMT on the chairman's visit and ''strongly backs'' the trip, Wu Den-yi said.

But media reports abound of a rift between Ma and Wu Po-hsiung, with the latter declining an invitation to attend the president-elect's inauguration ceremony.

Wu Po-hsiung was reportedly passed over for an appointment in Ma's Cabinet and is unsatisfied with his seating arrangement at the ceremony.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:May 19, 2008
Words:468
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