Los Angeles, Feb. 16 (CNA) After a hiatus of more than five years, Taiwan and the United States will resume talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in Taipei in March, Taiwan's top envoy to the U.S. confirmed Friday. U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis will lead a delegation to attend the new round of trade discussions under TIFA to begin March 11 in Taipei, King Pu-tsung announced during a news conference in San Francisco, on the first leg of his inaugural trip to the western U.S. after assuming duties last December. He further expressed hope that both sides will discuss issues of mutual concern and cooperation in commerce, such as a bilateral investment agreement, during the upcoming talks to improve bilateral trade and investment relations. King announced earlier this month that TIFA talks will resume March 11-12 in Taipei, in which Marantis will head a delegation of trade officials to co-host the seventh round of TIFA talks with Vice Economics Minister Cho Shih-chao, who will be leading the Taiwanese delegation. The talks under TIFA, which was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan- U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of diplomatic ties, had been suspended since 2007 due to controversies over imports of U.S. beef. Taiwan lifted its ban on imports of U.S. beef containing traces of a controversial leanness-enhancing drug last July, paving the way for resumption of the TIFA talks. Commenting on Taipei-Washington ties, King said bilateral relations are the most stable in 30 years and mutual trust has been rebuilt since President Ma Ying-jeou
took office in 2008. Taiwan's admission to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which took effect last November, was one of the examples of improved bilateral ties, he added. Meanwhile, new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and former Senator Chuck Hagel, who has been nominated for secretary of defense by U.S. President Barack Obama, have assured the Congress of their commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and Taiwan's security in their recent responses to questions from the Congress, King said. In light of the East China
Sea Peace initiative proposed by Ma, King said scholars at San Francisco-based think tanks acknowledged the proposal to shelve differences and jointly explore resources to address the territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands. King also reiterated that the Taiwan government will not compromise on its claims of sovereignty over the Diaoyutais and will continue to safeguard Taiwan's fishing rights in waters near the islands.
(By Oscar Wu and Elaine Hou)