Sat, Nov 10, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan granted observer status in diamond initiative

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA , BRUSSELS

Taiwan has gained observer status in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), marking a fresh breakthrough in the nation's participation in international organizations.

Taiwan took part as an observer for the first time this year in the Kimberley Process Plenary, which was held from Monday to Thursday in Brussels.

Taiwanese officials said the breakthrough had been achieved with the assistance of the EU, which chaired this year's meeting.

CONFLICT STONES

The KPCS, an initiative established in 2003 to certify the origin of rough diamonds from sources that are free of conflict, is aimed at stemming the flow of conflict diamonds -- diamonds that are used to finance wars.

Currently, 47 countries and regions are participating in the voluntary system.

Although Taiwan has complied with KPCS guidelines since 2003, it had been denied participant status owing to opposition from China. Taiwan had to take part in the annual Kimberley Process plenary meetings in its capacity as a World Diamond Council (WDC) member until this year.

Below the participant list published on the KPCS' official Web site, the Kimberley Process Secretariat said that "the rough diamond-trading entity of Chinese Taipei has also met the minimum requirements of the KPCS."

FULLY ELIGIBLE

Chiang Shih-huang, chief secretary of Taiwan's Bureau of Foreign Trade, who was in Brussels to attend this year's meeting, said that Taiwan was fully eligible for participant status in the KPCS.

Requiring the nation to take part in the Kimberley Process' meetings as a WDC member was unreasonable, Chiang said.

Saying that the KPCS is a trade framework with no relation to politics, Chiang said that both Taiwan and China are members of the WTO and APEC, proving that they could also coexist in the KPCS framework.

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