TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Chen Shui-bian offered today to hold Taiwan's first summit with China's president, saying he believed that the two leaders could "create history" like their Korean counterparts.
At his first news conference since taking office one month ago, Chen said he hopes to shake hands with President Jiang Zemin of China and to seek reconciliation during a summit held in any location and under any format that Jiang chooses.
China has long considered Taiwan a renegade state and demanded that it be rejoined with the Chinese mainland. The two rivals have never held a summit, only talks between lower-ranking officials.
"The Koreans have made a historic stride forward," Chen said, referring to the first summit between North and South Korea, held in Pyongyang last week. "We can also make changes and create history.
"This is the common wish of people across the Taiwan Strait," Chen said. "I believe we will have the same wisdom and creativity to fulfill the mission impossible."
Chen said he has placed in his study room a picture of the Korean leaders shaking hands at their historic summit so that he can learn from them.
Despite the many differences between Taiwan and China, Chen said recent developments, including his own election, could pave the way for reconciliation.