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Cross-strait leaders meet after 66 years of separation

Singapore -- President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) shook hands before a highly anticipated meeting in Singapore today, heralding a major step in cross-strait relations as both sides overcame semantic differences and met at their highest level in 66 years.

  The event was held under conditions of ultra-high security and was peppered with semi-chaotic scenes of media jostling among Taiwanese and international news agencies, with security teams performing detailed security checks including bomb detection scans for each vehicle entering the Shangri-La Hotel premises where the meeting was held.

  Ma and Xi appeared before a yellow-colored backdrop in the "Island Ballroom" of the hotel at 2:59 p.m. and shook hands in a firm handshake that lasted for 80 seconds in front of a throng of journalists from around the world. As widely expected, Ma and Xi both referred to each other as "mister." Both men highlighted the need to consolidate the "1992 Consensus," which has evolved from a tacit agreement to a key hallmark between both sides to interpret the "one China" policy in their own respective ways.

Xi Praises Ma's 7-year Efforts

  Xi, speaking first, was relatively brief in public remarks before the meeting in comparison to Ma, highlighting the same cultural and blood lineages of both sides of the Taiwan Strait and the improved relations over the past 7 years. "No one will be successful in dividing us,"he said.

  Ma, biding his time, gave remarks that outlined the crucial role of communications between both sides of the Taiwan Strait to bring new avenues of cooperation. He put forth five key directions in which relations should move forward: consolidating the "1992 Consensus"; downgrading tension by solving problems peacefully; increasing win-win opportunities through economic agreements (trade in goods agreement and allowing mainland travelers to use Taiwan as a transit point) while establishing consular offices on each side; establishing an emergency communications hotline and a cooperative effort to "revitalize China (Chinese civilization and culture)."

"History will remember this day": TAO (China)

  Zhang Zhijun, the head of mainland China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) provided a statement following the meeting, relaying words from Xi that the meeting was "a new page in history" for cross-strait relations. Zhang reiterated four points that Xi broached with Ma and his delegation: adhering to the "1992 Consensus," developing cross-strait peace, expanding the effects of prosperity to more segments of the population and cooperatively pursuing a "Chinese renaissance."

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 Ma arrives to talks amid cheers, jeers 
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) shook hands before a highly anticipated meeting in Singapore today, heralding a major step in cross-strait relations as both sides overcame semantic differences and met at their highest level in 66 years. (CNA)

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