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Pompeo tells Tedros to allow Taiwan to join WHA

US secretary of state reminds Tedros that he has power to invite Taiwan

Pompeo (left), Tedros (right). 

Pompeo (left), Tedros (right).  (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday (May 6) called for "all nations" to back Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) and called on the organization's leader to take executive action to permit Taiwan to attend the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA).

In line with the Trump administration's campaign to garner support for Taiwan's participation in the WHO as an observer, Pompeo delivered a speech on Wednesday in which he called on member nations to include Taiwan in the upcoming annual WHA meeting slated for May 18 to 19.

In particular, Pompeo singled out European nations as he called for Taiwan's admittance: "I want to call on all nations, including those in Europe, to support Taiwan's participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly and other relevant United Nations venues."

On Monday (May 4), the WHO's principal legal officer Steven Solomon claimed it is up to the group's 194 member countries to decide on Taiwan's participation and that the WHO Secretariat has no say in the matter.

Pompeo on Wednesday rebutted this claim by pointing out that previous heads of the organization had invited Taiwan before and that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus should do the same: "I also call upon WHO Director-General Tedros to invite Taiwan to observe this month's WHA, as he has the power to do, and as his predecessors have done on multiple occasions."

The Bureau of International Organization Affairs that evening then posted a tweet including Pompeo's speech and echoing Pompeo's call to the nations of the world to support Taiwan's participation. It added that Taiwan should be included so it can share the expertise it has gained from fighting off the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) and included the hashtag #TweetForTaiwan.

Meanwhile, during a WHO question-and answer-session, a Wall Street Journal reporter asked Tedros whether he would try to convince member states, particularly China, to allow Taiwan to attend or whether he would personally invite the country. Tedros stayed silent as a legal counsel of the WHO, Derek Walton, responded by parroting Solomon's claim that the decision will be left up to the group's members but acknowledged a proposal has been made for countries to consider.