US not against WHO membership for Taiwan lower case

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Taipei, May 11 (UNI) Taiwan's failure to win US support for its bid to become a full member of the World Health Organization (WHO) does not mean the United States is against the move, an official of Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said today.

According to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Tzu-pao, while the administration of President George W Bush does not oppose Taiwan's application for WHO membership, it has not offered its support for the bid because of certain restrictions in Taiwan-US relations.

Despite the lack of support from the administrative branch, the US Congress has clearly expressed its support for the move, Mr Yang was quoted as saying by Central News Agency (CNA) of Taiwan.

He said Taiwan will continue to work with its diplomatic allies to push for the inclusion of its membership application on the agenda of this year's World Health Assembly (WHA)-- the WHO's decision-making arm.

Yang made the remarks while briefing a group of Taiwan Solidarity Union legislators on the country's bid for WHO membership.

Although in favour of Taiwan's participation as an observer in the WHA, the United States has adopted a position of not supporting Taiwan's pursuit for membership in international organizations where statehood is required.

The Bush administration recently refused to receive a mission led by Joanne JL Chang, deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council, who was sent by Taiwan's government to lobby for US support for the country's effort to apply for WHO membership under the name of ''Taiwan'' this year.

Republic of China Representative to the United States Joseph Wu confirmed yesterday that the US government had clearly indicated to Taipei that it would not support the bid even before the application was filed in April.

To promote the bid ahead of the annual WHA gathering -- slated to open May 14 in Geneva, President Chen Shui-bian will hold a video conference with international media members posted in Geneva today afternoon.

Chen has on many occasions cited the precedent of the former East Germany to make a case for Taiwan's application, which was turned down unilaterally by the WHO Secretariat on the grounds that Taiwan is not a sovereign country.

Chen noted that the status of East Germany as a ''country'' was challenged when it applied to become a member of the WHO in 1968 but that the request was nonetheless included on the WHA's agenda for consideration by the organization's member nations.

The WHO invited East Germany to participate in the 1972 WHA gathering as an observer, and during the 1973 gathering, East Germany's application for WHO membership was approved, Chen pointed out.

Rejecting China's sovereignty claim over Taiwan, Chen asserted that Taiwan's status as an independent country is ''unquestionable'' because Taiwan maintains diplomatic relations with 23 official members of the WHO and one observer in the organization.


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