The two candidates to succeed Chen Shui-bian as president of Taiwan both said on Sunday that they backed an easing of tensions with the mainland, AFP reported. The Kuomintang’s (KMT) Ma Ying-Jeou and Frank Hsieh of Chen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) made the remarks during their first live televised debate ahead of the March 22 poll. They paid particular attention to the need to restore direct transport links between Taiwan and the mainland and how this might boost the island’s economy. Currently, passenger and cargo services must run through third parties. Frontrunner Ma, who is generally seen as more pro-Beijing, also called for an end to the cross-strait struggle for international diplomatic support. Hsieh was more circumspect, asking what price Taiwan would have to pay for this and stressing that "Taiwan’s national security and sovereignty should be given top priority."