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Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2005

Ishihara turns to Taipei as Beijing exits forum


Staff writer

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara will visit Taiwan on Tuesday to discuss ways to run a forum for major Asian cities, following the recent withdrawal of Beijing from the network, Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials said.

During his four-day visit, Ishihara is scheduled to meet with Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou and Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian.

The Asian Network of Major Cities 21 was established on Ishihara's initiative in 2001, with the purpose of promoting cooperation among the cities in addressing environmental and other urban problems.

At the last plenary meeting held in Jakarta in November, Beijing and Taipei stood as candidates for the host city of the 2005 plenary session.

With seven member cities voting for Beijing and another four choosing Taipei, members decided Beijing would host the session. One member cast a blank vote.

While all the cities except Beijing agreed to give Taipei priority in hosting the 2006 plenary session, Beijing strongly opposed.

Beijing maintained that it is extraordinary to mention the host of the session to be held two years later, according to the metropolitan government's Headquarters of Governor of Tokyo, which serves as the secretariat for the network.

On Friday, Ishihara told a news conference that officials of the metropolitan government had visited Beijing in July to urge the city to sign the agreement.

Although Beijing officials told them they would discuss the issue with their Tokyo counterparts in August, they said Aug. 30 that Beijing had decided to quit the network, Ishihara said.

"The metropolitan government officials had negotiated (with Beijing) while being polite and reasonable. But what a wretched state," Ishihara said. "The city is self-centered and deviating from diplomatic rules."

Ishihara will talk with Taipei officials about deciding the host of the next meeting and joint projects by member cities.



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