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U.S. lawmakers ask S. Korea to back Taiwan's bid to participate in WHO session

All News 17:51 May 14, 2020

By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea was included on the list of more than 50 countries that U.S. lawmakers have asked to support Taiwan's bid to participate in a key upcoming World Health Organization (WHO) session, a U.S. congressional committee website has shown.

The U.S. House foreign affairs committee website showed the list of 55 countries that received the request in a letter signed by four lawmakers, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch. The list, as of May 8, included South Korea, Japan, Britain, the European Union, Australia, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and others.

The letter calls on leaders of the "like-minded" countries to "affirmatively support Taiwan's participation in international organizations and in light of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic" and "to reject Beijing's political pressure campaign aimed at excluding Taiwan."

As a start, it calls for Taiwan to be allowed in the World Health Assembly, slated for May 18-19.

A foreign ministry official in Seoul declined to confirm whether it has received the letter, citing diplomatic practices.

"It's customary not to disclose anything unless there is an agreement between the two sides (to reveal it). So I won't speak about it," the official told reporters Thursday on condition of anonymity.

Asked South Korea's position regarding the matter, the official declined to respond, adding that it's up to the WHO chief to decide whether to invite Taiwan to the general assembly.

"We should look into various aspects. In the past years, there were times when they were invited and they were not invited," he said.

The U.S. lawmakers' call comes amid growing criticism of China by the Donald Trump administration over the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Washington has blamed Beijing for worsening the crisis by hiding related information.

China has opposed Taiwan being recognized as an independent member in any international organizations under its "One China" policy that considers Taiwan as part of its territory.

elly@yna.co.kr
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