Chinese, Taiwanese Presidents to Hold First Meeting Since 1949

This combination of file photos shows Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Taiwan announced Tuesday that President Ma Ying-jeou would hold face-to-face talks with Chinese President Xi Jiangping on Saturday — the first meeting between Taiwanese and Chinese leaders since 1949.

Ma's spokesman said the meeting would take place in Singapore and that no agreements would be signed. But he did say the two presidents would "solidify Taiwan-mainland relations and keep the status quo across the Taiwan Strait."

Chinese officials later confirmed the meeting.

In Washington, White House spokesman John Earnest told reporters, "The fundamental interest of the United States is in a stable and peaceful cross-strait relationship. And the United States remains committed to our one-China policy."

That policy recognizes a single Chinese government based in Beijing. But the U.S. is obligated by law to come to the aid of Taiwan if mainland China uses force to keep the island from formally declaring independence.

Chinese nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan in 1949 after they were defeated by Mao Zedong's communists.

The two governments have held low-level talks and have signed several trade deals since 2008, but mainland China always has vowed to retake Taiwan by force if it declares independence.