Sat, Apr 14, 2007 - Page 3 News List

US will not back WHO membership bid

By Nadia Tsao  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The US Department of State yesterday urged Taiwan to focus on meaningful participation in the WHO.

Following a lengthy discussion on the feasibility of Taiwan's entry into the WHO, a State Department official gave a background briefing to Taiwanese media yesterday, saying that since the US did not support Taiwan's participation in international organizations whose membership requires statehood, the US government would not back Taiwan's plan to become a WHO member state.

The official said the decision corresponds with President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) "four noes" pledge.

When asked if the US would vote for Taiwan's application to join the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer, the official said he could not answer hypothetical questions.

The official also issued a prepared statement saying that the US strongly supports Taiwan's meaningful participation in organizations that require no statehood.

Because membership of the WHO requires statehood, and the US has in the past strongly encouraged Taiwan to focus on meaningful participation in the WHA, the statement said.

The US strongly encourages Taiwan and the international community to focus on Taiwan's meaningful participation in the WHA, since if Taiwan fails to participate in a meaningful manner, the 23 million of people of Taiwan would not have the opportunity to make substantial contributions to various health programs, thereby preventing Taiwanese people from benefiting, it said.

The official reiterated the long established US policy that Washington does not support Taiwanese independence and opposes any attempt by either side of the Taiwan Strait to change the status quo unilaterally, saying that Chen has repeatedly pledged that no pressure, international or domestic, would change his commitment to the "four noes."

The official also said that applying for membership as a nation in any organization where statehood is a membership requirement is inconsistent with Chen's pledge that he would not change the national title. He added that Chen's promises were very important to regional peace and stability and were a test of his statesmanship.

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