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2020.05.13 16:08

Lithuania calls on WHO to invite Taiwan to international assembly

BNS2020.05.13 16:08

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius on Wednesday called on the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) to invite Taiwan to next week's assembly.

World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of WHO, will focus on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

"I emphasised that we respect and do not question the One China policy, but [...] Taiwan's participation as an observer would be helpful.” Linkevičius told BNS after his conversation with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Read more: China pressuring Lithuania. Vilnius needs to respond – opinion

“We would hope that China might perhaps agree to that, because we know that consensus among the parties is needed," he said.

Over 200 Lithuanian politicians and public figures have previously signed an open letter addressed to the Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, calling to support Taiwan’s independence and its admission to WHO.

An aide to Nausėda said the president backed discussions with Taiwan on a “practical” level, but could not advocate for its inclusion at WHO as the membership is only open to UN member states.

Read more: Lithuanian president doesn’t back Taiwan’s WHO membership – aide

Meanwhile WHO leadership says it has no mandate to invite Taiwan without the consent of member states.

Taiwan's participation has been strongly supported by the United States, but blocked by China which has not ruled out regaining control of the island by force, calling any support to Taiwan interference with its internal affairs.

Read more: Calls to support Taiwan ‘open provocation’, says China’s ambassador to Lithuania