Honduras trip shows Taiwan's commitment to bilateral ties: VP

01/25/2022 05:16 PM
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Vice President Lai Ching-te (left) speaks before boarding a plane at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. CNA photo Jan. 25, 2022
Vice President Lai Ching-te (left) speaks before boarding a plane at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. CNA photo Jan. 25, 2022

Taipei, Jan. 25 (CNA) Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) left for Honduras via the United States on Tuesday and said before his departure that the visit shows Taiwan's commitment to strengthening its relationship with the Central American ally.

Lai is leading a Taiwanese delegation on behalf of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to Honduras to take part in the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Xiomara Castro from Jan. 27-28.

While in Honduras, the vice president will also hold talks with Castro and Belize Prime Minister John Briceño, respectively, according to the Presidential Office.

Speaking at the airport before leaving, Lai said the delegation was traveling to Honduras despite the COVID-19 pandemic to congratulate Castro and her incoming government, showing Taiwan's commitment to boost bilateral ties and its support for the Central American nation.

He also said the delegation will donate "medical relief" to Honduras to help it fight the pandemic, without providing any details.

"We will use concrete action and specific measures to show our support for deeper ties and the new government," he said, adding that bilateral relations will continue based on pragmatism and reciprocity.

Describing Honduras as an important Central American ally for Taiwan, Lai said the two countries had gone through difficulties and defied threats and enticements during their eight decades of formal ties, while maintaining close and amicable relations.

Lai's trip to Honduras was the first time he has traveled overseas since taking office in May 2020.

Lai will make stopovers in Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, on the way to and from Tegucigalpa, according to the Presidential Office, and he will actually spend more time in the United States than in Honduras.

During the stopovers, he will speak with U.S. government officials and political representatives as well as overseas Taiwanese communities by telephone or through virtual means, the Office said, without providing further details.

Castro's win in the Nov. 28 presidential election made her the first female president of the Central American country, which first established diplomatic ties with the Republic of China, the official name of Taiwan, more than 80 years ago.

The victory of the 62-year-old wife of ousted former Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya had previously raised concerns over Honduran ties with Taiwan, as Castro had said during her campaign that she would switch recognition to China if she won.

Two senior members of Castro's transition team said last month, however, that the incoming government would maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, Joanne Ou (歐江安), spokeswoman for Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the ministry had established good interactions and communication with the incoming Castro administration.

Taiwan will work closely with its ally to push for collaboration in areas that the new government has pledged to prioritize, such as economic recovery, education and public health, Ou said.

(By Wu Jui-chi, Ken Wang and Teng Pei-ju)

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