"The general committee ... decided not to recommend this item [Taiwan's membership application] as part of the agenda of the 62nd session," Janos Tisovszky, spokesman for the assembly president, said.

 

Initially, Tisovszky said the committee held a vote on Taiwan's bid, but he issued a correction later saying the decision not to recommend the item for inclusion on the agenda was made by consensus.

 

It was taken after the committee voted 24-3 to limit the number of speakers to two on each side of the issue, he said.

 

China-Taiwan relations


Taiwan split from mainland China at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory, and says it will use force if it declares independence.

Beijing and Taipei both claim they are the legitimate government of all China.

Taiwan has been a multi-party democracy since 1996.

Taiwan's defence ministry says China now has nearly 1,000 missiles aimed at the island.

The US is Taiwan's major arms supplier and has warned China that any attack would be viewed with "grave concern".

St Vincent and the Solomon islands spoke in favour of putting the item "urging the Security Council to process Taiwan's membership application" on the UN General Assembly's agenda.

 

China and Egypt spoke against it, Tisovsky said.

 

In past years, Taiwan's supporters have publicly pressed the general committee to take up Taiwan's membership.

 

But Tisovszky said this year member states decided that the meeting would be held behind closed doors.
 
The move came after hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese took part in mass rallies in support of UN membership over the weekend.
 
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, had said it was "not legally possible" for his office to accept a membership application from Taipei.
 
The Taiwan government was expelled from the world body in 1971 in favour of the People's Republic of China.
 

The island has been trying for years to rejoin but China has so far managed to block its application.

 

Taiwan's more aggressive approach has heightened tensions with China and Beijing has vowed to use force against Taiwan if it ever declares independence.

 
Despite this, Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan's president, is planning to hold a referendum on UN membership alongside presidential elections in March, just months before Beijing hosts the Olympics.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies