- Associated Press - Sunday, July 11, 2010

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan’s president on Sunday urged his Chinese counterpart to work toward improving historically testy ties following the signing of a landmark trade deal.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, who has sought to build better relations with the mainland since taking office in May 2008, said this was an opportunity for the two sides to end decades of mistrust and search for common ground.

Taiwan and China signed a broad trade pact last month.

The deal, commonly known as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, will end tariffs on hundreds of products traded across the Taiwan Strait. It should boost bilateral trade already totaling about $110 billion a year: some $80 billion in goods flowing to China, and $30 billion to Taiwan.

Mr. Ma told reporters Sunday he had asked the honorary chairman of his ruling Nationalist Party, Wu Poh-hsiung, to tell Chinese President Hu Jintao during a planned meeting in Beijing on Monday that the two should work together to “build mutual trust, set aside our differences and look for common grounds.”

Doing so, he said, would lead to a “win-win situation.”

China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing continues to claim the island as part of its territory.