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Taiwan President Seeks U.N. Status

Monday August 21 6:29 PM ET

BANJUL, Gambia (AP) - Taiwan's president ended a two-day visit to the small West African country of Gambia on Monday, reiterating his resolve to get Taiwan re-admitted to the United Nations.

``It is extremely unfair for a nation of 23 million people to be denied the right to sovereign existence,'' said President Chen Shui-bian, who is on his first trip abroad as president. He thanked the Gambian government for backing a U.N. resolution to have Taiwan re-admitted to the world body.

Taiwan was a charter member of the United Nations, but gave up its seat in 1971 after the U.N. accepted the Communist government in Beijing as the sole legitimate ruler of China. Beijing opposes Taiwan's entry to the United Nations and regards it as a rebellious province.

For the eighth year, some of Taiwan's diplomatic allies are proposing that the United Nations consider Taiwan's plea to rejoin. Taiwanese officials have said the United Nations would make an ideal forum for helping to resolve differences between their government and Beijing.

Only 29 nations, mostly small developing countries, have diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Six of them will be part of Chen's trip through the Caribbean, Central America and Africa. He also made a brief stop in the United States.

Chen denied accusations that Taiwan uses financial assistance to win support from poor African nations, while ignoring their human rights record. ``We expect each state to live up to expectations regarding respect for human rights, economic development and the social needs of its people,'' he said.

The government of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has harassed and arrested opponents, including journalists and politicians. Jammeh seized power in July 1994 and was elected to office two years later in voting that was widely questioned by international observers and opposition groups.

Chen left for nearby Burkina Faso after ending his Gambia visit.

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