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Taiwan urges China to remove missiles

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TAIPEI (AFP): Taiwan said China would have to remove 1,600 missiles targeting the island as a precondition for signing a peace treaty putting a formal end to a civil war fought more than 60 years ago.

Lai Shin-yuan, Taiwan's top China policy maker, made the call on Tuesday, a day after the island's president Ma Ying-jeou said the treaty might be a possibility within the coming decade.

"A precondition for a peace treaty is accumulating enough mutual trust between the two sides, but China's huge military deployment reflects insufficient trust," said Lai, head of the Mainland Affairs Council.

"We continue urging China to voluntarily give up its military deployment, which is felt as a threat by the people of Taiwan."

Lai dismissed concerns that the treaty was designed to lead to unification with China, saying it will ensure "everlasting peace" and the island's goal of "no unification, no independence and no use of force" between the two sides.

A peace treaty is widely considered one of the thorniest issues in the complex relations between China and Taiwan, reflected in Ma's reassurance Monday that it would only happen if the island's people agreed.

Observers have so far tended to believe that a peace treaty is a rather remote prospect, because it will involve difficult questions, such as who should sign the agreement on either side.

Although Taiwan has been governed separately since a civil war ended in 1949, China still claims the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Taiwanese experts estimate the People's Liberation Army currently has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island.

However, tensions have eased markedly since Ma took office in 2008 on a Beijing-friendly platform to promote trade and tourism.

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Taiwan  China  Missiles  
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