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Chinese mainland welcomes Taiwan opposition to cross-Straits forum

  BEIJING, June 24 (Xinhua) -- A mainland official Wednesday said the mainland would welcome politicians of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to take part in the Cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Culture Forum.

  The Kuomintang (KMT), the island's ruling party, will send a delegation headed by chairman Wu Poh-hsiung to the forum on July 11 and 12 in Changsha, capital of the central Hunan Province, said Fan Liqing, spokesperson of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, at a regular press conference.

  The forum will focus on cooperation in culture and education across the Taiwan Strait, she said.

  About 400 people, including experts and business people, were expected to attend the forum, she said. "Preparation goes on smoothly."

  "There is great potential for the two sides to work together in the creative industries and education," she said.

  Business circles on both sides will discuss cooperation of clean energy as well as business potential in the mainland's central provinces.

  A gala will be held for about 1,000 young people from both sides on the sidelines of the forum, Fan said.

  The forum, an event agreed by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the KMT, was first held in April 2006.

  Fan also said both sides of the Strait were still working to realize routine flights and would try to start services "as early as possible."

  The agreement on routine flights, reached at the April meeting of Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), will take effect on Friday.

  Aviation departments on both sides were discussing routes and flight arrangements, she said.

  From Friday, each side would begin taking applications from airline companies on the opposite side, she said.