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International relations

WHO's Tedros has 'no mandate' to invite Taiwan, lawyer says

'Only member states' can decide who attends World Health Assembly

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference on the novel coronavirus in Geneva, Switzerland.    © Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) -- The World Health Organization's director general has "no mandate" to invite Taiwan to take part in its assembly next week, the body's lawyer said on Monday, adding member states had "divergent views" on the self-ruled island's participation.

WHO principal legal officer Steven Solomon told and online news briefing that only member states could decide who attends the World Health Assembly (WHA).

Taiwan, with the strong support of the United States, has stepped up its lobbying to be allowed to take part as an observer at next week's meeting of the WHO's decision-making body, to China's anger.

China berated New Zealand on Monday for its support for Taiwan's participation at the WHO, saying the country should "stop making wrong statements" on the issue to avoid damaging bilateral ties.

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