Fri, Jan 06, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Kau gives a conservative estimate for Taiwan's WHO observership chances

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau (高英茂) said yesterday that Taiwan has a 51 percent chance of joining the World Health Organization (WHO) this year.

Kau made the comment at the Legislature's Foreign and Overseas Compatriot's Affairs Committee in response to a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆).

Kau said that since last year, the WHO has begun to allow the "meaningful participation" of countries which are not members of the WHO and that China has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the WHO to allow for Taiwan's participation in certain technical activities.

The vice minister said that the reason he remained conservative about Taiwan's chances was because of the frustration caused by failed applications over the last three years.

Even so, Kau said his ministry will continue to push for Taiwan to be granted observer status at the WHO.

He said that the foreign ministry is currently trying to get Taiwan invited to participate in bird flu prevention meetings slated to take place in Tokyo and Beijing later this month.

Deputy Director of the International Organization Department Daniel Liao (廖東周) said yesterday that the ministry is currently deliberating on how to include Taiwan's entry bid on the agenda of the WHO's Executive Board (EB) meeting, scheduled to be held from Jan. 27 to 28.

Liao said that in previous years, Taiwan's diplomatic allies had made the proposal on Taiwan's behalf. However, this year none of Taiwan's diplomatic allies are members of the EB and therefore, the ministry is exploring other means of raising the issue.

If it proves impossible to make the bid at this month's EB meeting, Taiwan will try again at the World Health Assembly in May, Liao added.

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