Tue, Feb 11, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers take quest for WHO support to Europe

DIPLOMATIC INITIATIVE A cross-party delegation is hoping for a warm reception from their counterparts in London and academics in France

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A group of lawmakers will leave for England and France today in a bid to seek support for the nation's attempt to join the WHO.

"We'll endeavor to seek their support for our bid," said DPP Legislator Parris Chang (張旭成) at a press conference yesterday.

Efforts to gain membership of WHO began in 1997, with the focus in recent years on obtaining observer status at the WHO's top decision-making body, the World Health Assembly (WHA).

The bid was given a boost last year when both the US and Japan voiced their support for WHA observership, although European countries including France and Spain voiced reservations.

KMT Legislator Chiang Yi-wen (江綺雯) said that when she visits the Vatican after the weeklong stay in England and France, she would seek the Holy See's support for the WHO bid.

Lawmakers also said the British are paying special attention to the delegation's visit in view of a recent resolution in the Legislative Yuan calling for a one-year ban on sales of alcoholic beverages by British Diageo PLC.

The legislature passed the non-binding resolution last month after the British company launched a Smirnoff ad campaign in London that lawmakers say damaged Taiwan's image.

Diageo has formally apologized for the controversial campaign and has placed new ads in London which focus on a positive image of Taiwan.

"We'll see how to best handle the case," Chang said.

KMT Legislator Sun Kauo-hwa (孫國華) said the London trip has gained "special" significance now that both members of the House of Commons and the Foreign and the Commonwealth Office (FCO) have agreed to meet with the delegation.

Donald Anderson, chairman of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, and Martin O'Neill, chairman of its Trade and Industry Select Committee will meet with the delegation, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Sir Nicholas Winterton, co-chair of the British Taiwan parliamentary group, will also receive the delegation, the ministry said, while some FCO officials are also scheduled to meet with the delegation informally.

However, the delegation will not visit the French parliament because it is in recess, lawmakers said.

The delegation also includes DPP Legislator Hilo Bi-him (蕭美琴), KMT Legislator Chang Hsiu-chen (張秀珍) as well as PFP Legislator Liu Sung-pan (劉松藩).

The delegation will visit think tanks in England and Paris, including the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, lawmakers said.

Meanwhile, Martin O'Neill is slated to arrive in Taipei on Feb. 18 for a four-day visit.

The foriegn ministry said that during his stay O'Neill will meet with Legislative Yuan Vice Speaker Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤) and Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-hsiang (施顏祥).

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