Focus Taiwan: Taiwan offered observer status in U.S.-led religious freedom alliance

Taipei, Feb. 13 (CNA) Taiwan has been invited to join the newly formed International Religious Freedom Alliance as an observer, alongside the United States and 26 other countries that have full membership, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Wednesday.

The invitation was issued by Sam Brownback, United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, in recognition of Taiwan’s strong interest in participating in the U.S. State Department’s efforts to promote religious freedom around the world, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said.

The formation of the International Religious Freedom Alliance was announced last July and launched Feb. 5 by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with 26 other countries around the world joining the organization to oppose “all abuses or violations of religious freedom,” as stated in its Declaration of Principles.

However, in a column Tuesday, Josh Rogin of the Washington Post pointed out that Taiwan had been left out of the membership of the alliance and said the exclusion was intentional on the part of the U.S. State Department.

China “brought pressure on multiple countries involved in the campaign to make sure Taiwan was not included,” Rogin wrote, citing sources.

According to Ou, Taiwan had received an invitation to join the alliance as an observer, before the column was published.

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