Taiwan grateful for U.S. House support for ICAO bid - Focus Taiwan

Taiwan grateful for U.S. House support for ICAO bid

Taipei, June 19 (CNA) Taiwan said on Wednesday that it was grateful for the U.S. House's support for its bid to participate in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations specialized agency promoting safe and efficient travel.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its "sincerest gratitude" to the U.S. House for passing a bill on Tuesday in support of Taiwan's bid to participate in the ICAO.

The bill calls for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to develop a strategy to help Taiwan obtain observer status at the next triennial ICAO Assembly, scheduled for September 2013 in Montreal.

It also asks Kerry to instruct the U.S. mission to the Montreal-based ICAO to officially request observer status for Taiwan at the ICAO Assembly and actively urge ICAO member states to support the participation of Taiwan.

The Senate is expected to pass a similar bill next week, which will become a law if signed by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Taiwan has been in recent years seeking international support for its participation in the ICAO, and it will continue its effort, a ministry official said.

In order to seek meaningful participation in the ICAO, Taiwan is also considering following the model of its participation in the World Health Assembly, as an observer by the name of Chinese Taipei, according to the official.

On Wednesday, the United Kingdom's representative to Taiwan, Chris Wood, also said the U.K. will support Taiwan's participation in the ICAO if a practical way can be found.

When asked about the U.K.'s stance on the issue, Wood said Taiwan's position is affected by the fact that it is not a U.N. member.

His remarks came at a news conference marking the 20th anniversary of the British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO), which represents U.K. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

The U.K. will support practical and pragmatic ways for Taiwan's participation in international organizations where there is benefit to the international community, he said.

"Civil aviation doesn't stop at Taiwan's borders," he said, adding that "if a mechanism can be found for Taiwan in some way to participate in the ICAO, then we will be supportive."

However, he pointed out that it was for the ICAO to find a mechanism for Taiwan's participation.

Taipei, which lost its U.N. seat to Beijing in 1971 and has since been unable to rejoin the world body because of China's interference, has been seeking to participate meaningfully in U.N. specialized agencies, such as the ICAO and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, in recent years.

Thanks to warming ties across the Taiwan Strait since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, Taiwan has been able to attend the World Health Assembly -- the decision-making arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) -- as an observer since May 2009.

(By Elaine Hou) ENDITEM/SID

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