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Taiwan yet to receive invitation to attend WHA conference

2016/04/19 16:52:05

(CNA file photo)

Taipei, April 19 (CNA) Taiwan has yet to receive an invitation to attend this year's session of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

The annual conference is scheduled to take place in Geneva from May 23 to 28.

Lin Tsou-yen (林奏延), who will be Taiwan's next minister of health and welfare in the new Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration that takes office on May 20, would lead Taiwan's delegation to the meeting.

But while his name was immediately sent to the WHO Secretariat after his appointment was confirmed on April 7, no invitation has been received, said Michael Hsu (徐佩勇), director-general of MOFA's Department of International Organizations.

The WHO Secretariat is still engaged in "internal operations" and has yet to send out the invitation, Hsu said.

Asked if there were other reasons why an invitation has yet to be received, he said the process of sending an invitation is based on the internal operations of the WHO, and "(we will) not speculate on this."

Hsu said the timing for receiving a WHO invitation varies each year and the fact that one has not been received yet does not mean it might not be coming. Last year's invitation was received at the end of April, he said.

Ministry officials said previously that they expected the invitation to arrive in Taipei before April 10, but they could not be sure if Beijing might try to block the invitation as Taiwan will soon experience a transfer of power from the China-friendly Kuomintang to the pro-independence DPP next month.

Taiwan has attended the WHA as an observer every year since 2009, one year after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Kuomintang was inaugurated.

(By Ta Ya-chen and Lilian Wu)