Taipei, April 29 (CNA) Taipei forged a sister city relationship with Belmopan, the capital of Belize, on Monday to boost cooperation on culture, trade, environmental issues and tourism.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and Khalid Belisle, the mayor of Belmopan, signed an agreement in Taipei to formalize the links.
Belisle said forming sister city ties with Taipei represented an important milestone in the process of deepening the friendship between Taiwan and Belize, one of Taiwan's 17 diplomatic allies.
During his four years as mayor, he has visited many countries and learned that many cities encounter similar problems, the 38-year-old mayor said.
He recognized that Belmopan can learn from different cities as each of them have their own strengths, he said, citing Taipei's excellent public transportation system as something worth learning from.
Ko praised Belize as a small and beautiful country rich in biodiversity that is home to the largest barrier reef systems in the Western Hemisphere along with rain forests and Mayan ruins.
He noted that Belize's embassy participated in the Taipei Lantern Festival for the first time in February with lanterns depicting the Great Blue Hole, a giant marine sinkhole off the coast of Belize, and said the lanterns were well received.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Central American ally.
With a population more than 20,000, Belmopan is the fastest growing population center in Belize, according to its official website.
Ever since Taipei forged its first sister city relationship with Houston, Texas, in 1961, it has formed sister city ties with 49 cities, according to the city government.
Since Ko took office in 2014, Taipei has formed sister city ties with Wellington, New Zealand; Castries, St. Lucia; Quito, Ecuador; and now Belmopan.