Taiwan's former vice-president Lien Chan to meet Chinese president in Beijing

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's former vice-president Lien Chan is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing next week in the latest high-level talks between the two sides, it was announced on Friday.

Mr Lien, an honorary chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, will discuss issues of mutual interest with Mr Xi during a three-day visit to Beijing beginning on Monday under the invitation of the Chinese side, Mr Lien's office said in a statement.

"Members of the delegation include people from various civilian sectors who will voice their expectations and suggestions on future cross-strait exchanges... in the hope that China can directly understand and keep abreast of Taiwan's public opinions," it said.

The visit comes hot on the heels of the first government-to-government talks between Taiwan and China since they split 65 years ago after a civil war.

Mr Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's top official overseeing China policy, on Tuesday met his Chinese counterpart Zhang Zhijun in Nanjing in a symbolic yet historic move between the former bitter rivals.

Beijing still claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification.

Mr Lien became the first leader of the nationalist Kuomintang party to visit China in 56 years when he met President Hu Jintao in 2005 to formally end hostilities with the communists. Last year, he met Mr Xi in Beijing.

Ties with China have improved markedly since Mr Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT became Taiwan's president in 2008 on a Beijing-friendly platform. He was re-elected in 2012 for a final four-year term.

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