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Taiwan thanks Abe, Trudeau for supporting WHO bid

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo from Trudeau

Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) Taiwan's foreign ministry on Thursday thanked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for supporting Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) in light of the global health crisis represented by the outbreak of a new coronavirus in China.

According to a report from Kyodo News, Abe said during a parliamentary session on Thursday that Taiwan's participation in the WHO is necessary to effectively fight the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which has infected more than 7,700 people and claimed at least 170 lives in China alone as of Wednesday.

Abe also said it will be difficult to maintain health and prevent the virus from spreading further in the region if Taiwan is excluded from the WHO for political reasons, according to the report.

"We will continue to make our country's stance clear at the WHO," Abe was quoted as saying.

Taiwan is not a member of the U.N. or its affiliated organizations, including the WHO, due to the opposition of China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory.

Meanwhile, Trudeau said Wednesday (local time) during an interpellation in the Canadian parliament that his administration supports Taiwan's meaningful participation in international multilateral forums.

"We believe that Taiwan's role as an observer in World Health Assembly (WHA) meetings is in the best interest of the international health community and also is an important partner in the fight against this epidemic," Trudeau said, as shown in a video clip on Canada's Cable Public Affairs Channel.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Thursday expressed gratitude for the support of the Japanese and Canadian governments.

"Taiwan hopes to continue to deepen its cooperation with Japan on epidemic prevention," MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou said in a press statement, adding that Abe's remark demonstrates the importance and urgency of Taiwan's participation in the WHO.

Ou also noted that this is the first time a Canadian prime minister has openly expressed such support, which shows that Taiwan's "legitimate and pragmatic appeal" has gained the support of the Canadian government at a time of global health crisis created by the new coronavirus.

The ministry reiterated that viruses know no borders and the health and security of mankind should not be compromised by political considerations, Ou said.

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