updated 7/27/2009 5:44:52 AM ET 2009-07-27T09:44:52

Taiwanese and Chinese leaders directly exchanged messages on Monday for the first time in 60 years, the latest sign of warming relations between Beijing and Taipei.

A Nationalist party press statement said the correspondence originated with a congratulatory message from Chinese President Hu Jintao to Taiwan's leader Ma Ying-jeou after he won an election for the ruling party's chairmanship.

Ma was elected Sunday following monthslong efforts to improve ties with Beijing as president.

The party statement said Hu also asked Ma to help bolster mutual trust between the rival sides and Ma urged Hu to promote cross-strait peace and stability.

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

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