U.S. urges WHO chief to ask Taiwan to meeting

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Flags of Taiwan and U.S. are placed for a meeting between U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce speaks and with Su Chia-chyuan, President of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei

By Emma Farge

GENEVA (Reuters) – The U.S. mission in Geneva urged World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday to invite Taiwan to a major meeting the body is hosting next week expected to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We encourage the WHO to expand its efforts to offer Taiwan increased meaningful cooperation and collaboration with the organization, and this (an invitation to participate) would be a needed step in that direction,” it said in a statement.

Washington has been deeply critical of the WHO and its boss Tedros for its handling of the pandemic, saying it is too close to China, and plans to withdraw.

Backed by the United States, Taiwan has stepped up lobbying this year to take part in the meeting of the WHO’s decision-making body as an observer, angering China, which claims the democratically-run island as its own territory.

Taiwan, which was praised internationally for quickly containing the coronavirus, was not invited to an earlier meeting by the same body in May and it agreed to put off the issue until later in the year.

The WHO has previously said it has no mandate to invite Taiwan since members disagree on the island’s participation.

The virtual meeting of 194 member states is set to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and related health issues.

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