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Taiwan thanks EU for supporting its participation in the WHO

ROC Central News Agency

01/31/2020 08:16 PM

Taipei, Jan. 31 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Friday thanked the European Union (EU) for supporting Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO), amid a growing international response to a new form of coronavirus.

On Thursday, Virginie Battu-Henriksson, a spokeswoman for the EU's diplomatic service, the European External Action Service (EEAS), told CNA in a written response that while the EU only maintains observer status in the WHO, it is supportive of Taiwan's participation in the body.

"The EU promotes practical solutions regarding Taiwan's participation in international frameworks wherever this is consistent with the EU's "One China" policy and the EU's policy objectives. This applies to the WHO," Battu-Henriksson said.

"In general, as well as in this particular case of the Coronavirus outbreak, we make an effort to discuss with partners and seek practical solutions to include Taiwan where its technical competence and capacities bring an added value," she said.

Except for the specific reference to the coronavirus outbreak, the statement was nearly identical to past expressions of support for Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO.

In a statement issued Friday, MOFA thanked the EU and noted that the United States, Japan and Canada have also recently expressed support for Taiwan's inclusion in the WHO.

"As the development of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak makes clear, there should be no gaps in global virus prevention efforts," the statement said.

Despite the shows of international support, Taiwanese authorities have not been invited to emergency meetings held by the WHO on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, due to the body's affiliation with the United Nations, which does not recognize Taiwan.

When the issue of Taiwan's exclusion came up during a WHO press conference on Wednesday, Michael Ryan, the head of organization's Health Emergency Programme, suggested that Taiwanese experts are being included at an unofficial level.

He said those experts remain "fully engaged and fully aware" of developments relating to the outbreak and the WHO's response.

(By Ku Chuan and Matthew Mazzetta)


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