Taiwan-Philippines talks postponed

Taiwan-Philippines talks postponed

TAIPEI - The new round of fishery talks with the Philippines that was originally set to be held in mid-September has been temporarily postponed due to Manila's internal problems, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

"The meeting that was scheduled to take place on Sept. 16 has been postponed due to the recent Muslim rebel attack in the southern Philippines," Benjamin Ho, chief of MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told local media yesterday.

"We will have to wait until the Philippines government has settled the rebels," he noted.

Ho made the comments when asked by reporters on the date for the next bilateral fishery talks.

The MOFA official previously said the two countries were hoping to hold the next round of fishery talks in Taipei in late August in an effort to address fishing disputes in their overlapping waters.

Both sides held a preparatory meeting on June 14, during which they reached an initial consensus on several issues, including a promise that both sides will not use force or violence during patrols of the fishing grounds.

Ho said yesterday that both sides hoped to reach further consensus in the upcoming talks, including setting official fishery boundary lines in overlapping waters and establishment of a mechanism to inform each other in the event of fishery incidents.

Ho noted that Taiwan also hopes to strengthen the legal effects of the bilateral consensus by signing an official pact in future talks. But it might take several years before a deal is inked, he said.

The bilateral fishery talks were initiated in the wake of repaired bilateral relations after Taiwan on Aug. 8 lifted a series of sanctions imposed against the Philippines over its handling of the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel in May.

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