Thu, May 15, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Spain, France are unlikely to oppose Taipei's efforts

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Spain and France are unlikely to speak out against Taiwan's bid to join the WHA at an upcoming summit as they did last year, although EU member states' policy toward the government hinges upon many factors, sources said

"At least France and Spain will not speak out against our bid," said Lan Chih-min (藍智民), representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Madrid, in a phone interview on Tuesday evening.

Spain and France both spoke out against the inclusion of the proposal to discuss Taipei's bid to join the assembly during the general committee meeting last May.

The US and Japan kept silent on the issue during the same committee meeting, although later both countries' officials expressed their support for Taipei outside of the WHA set-up.

With the SARS outbreak now unfolding across national boundaries this year, the sense of "sympathy" among EU countries toward Taiwan's participation in the UN global health agency has been on the rise, said Chiou Jong-nan (邱榮男), de facto ambassador to Paris, on Tuesday evening.

Such sympathy was turned into a consensus among EU member states on April 10 when COASI, a sub-division within the EU responsible for initiatives on human rights specializing in the Asian region, agreed to seek an "appropriate approach to Taiwan's participation in WHO," according to a foreign ministry official.

"The EU will work closely with the US and Japan to form a common position in the framework of WHO," the COASI position concluded on April 10 available on the Web site of Taiwan's representative office in Canada.

As American and Japanese top-ranking officials have expressed their support for Taiwan's bid to join the WHA as an observer, attention has been focused on whether the EU, US and Japan would speak in favor of Taipei's bid.

The EU member states' actions and inaction toward Taipei's bid depend upon the EU internal discussion, the block's negotiations with the US and Japan as well as the extent to which China lobbies against Taipei's bid, diplomats have said.

Ongoing negotiations and consultations among EU member states as well as among EU, the US and Japan on Taipei's bid have been taking place in Geneva and also in Brussels.

"How the US will act, and whether the US will take any concrete action to support us will very much affect how the EU member states' actions and inactions," said David Lin (林永樂), director-general of the ministry's European affairs department.

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