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    WHO 2001 - HHS Secretary Supports Taiwan for WHO


Geneva, May 16 (CNA) U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said Wednesday that the United States supports Taiwan's role in the World Health Organization (WHO).

Answering questions raised by a CNA reporter after delivering a speech at the American International Club in Geneva, Thompson said clearly that U.S. President George W. Bush, the new U.S. administration and he himself will all throw their weight behind Taiwan's role in the meetings and activities of the WHO and exchanges under its auspices.

This is the first time in many years that a U.S. cabinet member has openly and explicitly supported Taiwan's participation in the WHO. Thompson's remarks coincide with a U.S. congressional resolution Tuesday asking the U.S. administration to help Taiwan obtain an observer status in the WHO.

The steering committee of the WHO on Monday turned down a proposal raised by Honduras and other three of Taiwan's diplomatic allies to put Taiwan's WHO membership issue on the agenda of the WHO assembly, marking the fifth consecutive year that Taiwan has failed to enter the WHO.

Taiwan, a founding member of the WHO, was forced out of the organization in 1972 after losing its seat in the United Nations to mainland China a year earlier.

Thompson said that although United Nations' resolution No. 2758 in 1971 substantially bars Taiwan's participation in the WHO, he, as the health secretary of the United States, supports Taiwan's participation in the WHO. He said he thinks that Taiwan should be a part of its meetings and gain access to the expertise of WHO experts to help upgrade the health care standard of the island.

Thompson said he was a friend of Taiwan's and had visited the island six times during his tenure as the governor of the State of Wisconsin. (By James Kuo & Bear Lee)

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