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ROC Central News Agency

2007-05-15 19:41:41

    Taipei, May 15 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian said Tuesday that Taiwan has made a step forward in its efforts to join the World Health Organization (WHO) , as its WHO membership bid issue was extensively discussed in the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO's decision-making arm.

    Chen made the remarks at the Presidential Office to a group of government overseas mission chiefs who returned for a home visit after WHA member states decided a day earlier not to discuss the country's application to enter the WHO as a full member under the name of "Taiwan" by a vote of 148 to 17 on the first day of the WHA week-long 60th annual conference in Geneva.

    It was the first time that the country had pursued full WHO membership, rather than observer status in the WHA, under the name of "Taiwan" in a decade.

    Admitting that Taiwan's WHO membership bid will not be gained easily, Chen said that he has strong confidence that the objective will be achieved as long as "we insist on doing the right thing."

    Looking to the future, the president said, the government plans to file an application in September to join the United Nations in the name of "Taiwan, " so as to allow the international community to hear the voices of the Taiwan people.

    Chen said that he was pleased to hear that Taiwan's WHO bid application stirred up debate in the WHA annual conference after being briefed the previous night by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Security Council on the issue.

    Despite rejection by WHA member states to include the issue on their annual conference agenda, Chen still described the latest setback as a "successful first step."

    The exclusion of Taiwan from the WHO reflects that the issue is not a purely one of "public health, " Chen pointed out, adding that Taiwan would have been granted a seat if it were simply a health or quarantine issue.

    According to Chen, the key point lies in the U. N.'s reluctance to recognize Taiwan's statehood. Stressing that Taiwan is an independent sovereign state, Chen said that the U. N.'s refusal to recognize Taiwan could never affect Taiwan's statehood.

    During Monday's WHA session, the United States, the European Union, Japan and Canada all supported Taiwan's meaningful participation in the WHO and its technical meetings as an observer.

(By Flor Wang)


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