President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文, left) and her Guatemalan counterpart, Jimmy Morales.
Guatemala City, Jan. 11 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her Guatemalan counterpart, Jimmy Morales, reaffirmed their commitment to relations and cooperation between the two countries Wednesday, with Tsai saying that Taiwan will continue to support a Guatemalan highway expansion project, a proposal put forward by Morales.
Tsai received a military salute hosted by Morales at the National Palace of Culture shortly after she arrived in Guatemala earlier in the day.
At the ceremony, Morales extended his warmest welcome to Tsai, who is visiting the country as Taiwan's president for the first time. He also reaffirmed the two countries' commitment to strengthening their friendship and maintaining bilateral cooperation.
Noting their long-standing cooperation, he said that the people of Guatemala have benefited from bilateral cooperation in public health, infrastructure, agriculture and education.
Morales expressed gratitude for Taiwan's help with the highway project in the past, but also expressed hope that Taiwan will continue to provide assistance in the fourth stage of the expansion project, which he said will greatly improve transportation in his country.
He also expressed hope that the two countries will expand cooperation in investment, tourism, energy, science and infrastructure.
Following the welcoming ceremony, the two leaders held talks and conferred medals on each other, before holding a joint press conference.
At the news conference, Tsai said that during the meeting, she reiterated her administration's determination to promote "steadfast diplomacy" and its hope of seeking bilateral cooperation that will be mutually beneficial.
The two leaders discussed plans for cooperation in infrastructure, medicine and education during the meeting, she said. Bilateral cooperation in the highway project and medicine-related programs have been progressing well, and Taiwan is willing to continue to promote related projects, she added.
On the highway project, Tsai said that "we're pleased to have taken part in the first three phases of the project," adding that Taiwan will continue to provide assistance.
The Republic of China embassy in Guatemala will conduct further discussions with Guatemalan government agencies to work out details of the cooperation, Tsai said.
On the development of bilateral relations, Tsai said her visit to Guatemala is aimed at boosting tourism exchanges and parliamentary exchanges, advancing trade relations and strengthening the links between the people and governments of the two countries.
Tsai said Guatemala is rich in tourism resources, such as the old city of Antigua, which she is scheduled to visit during her trip.
Guatemala is also strong in the coffee industry, she said, adding that a delegation of Taiwanese companies will soon visit Guatemala to explore the possibility of helping to export local coffee to Taiwan.
Guatemala is the third leg of Tsai's Central American tour, which also includes Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. She will later travel to El Salvador before returning to Taiwan Jan. 15, with a stopover in San Francisco en route.
Tsai's nine-day Central American visit is aimed at consolidating ties with Taiwan's diplomatic allies there after the small West African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan Dec. 20, 2016.
(By Sophia Yeh and Elaine Hou)