TAIPEI, Nov. 13 (Reuters) – The outgoing president of Honduras said on Saturday that he hoped his country would continue its friendship with Taiwan as Taipei tries to maintain relations with the Central American country during a diplomatic tug-of-war with Beijing.
Honduras is one of only 15 countries to maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which China claims as its territory with no right to state relations.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s party faces a tough challenge in the November 28 election to retain the presidency as a candidate backed by the main opposition parties tops opinion polls.
If elected, Xiomara Castro has vowed to make changes, including establishing official relations with China.
“Right now, amid tensions in the region, Honduras is here to show that we are true friends and that only true friendship can be seen in difficult times,” Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said in the presidential office. in Taipei on a broadcast of a meeting. live on facebook.
“We hope to deepen such friendships and diplomatic ties within or after my presidency,” said Hernandez, who is completing the second of his two four-year terms.
China has stepped up its military and political pressure on Taiwan in recent months, including an almost daily campaign of military exercises and patrols near the democratic island.
Tsai called Hernandez’s three-day visit “important” and said she hoped the two countries would “continue to help each other” on the international stage.
Taiwan, which claims to be an independent country, had accused China of using the Honduran elections to “create controversy” and warned Honduras not to get carried away by Beijing’s “flashy and false” promises. read more
For years, China and Taiwan have exchanged accusations of “dollar diplomacy” as they seek support and offer aid packages in return for diplomatic recognition.
China’s efforts to win over Taiwan’s remaining allies have alarmed Washington, which is particularly concerned about Beijing’s growing influence in Central America and the Caribbean.
There has been widespread speculation about Hernandez’s future and whether a Castro administration would allow him to be extradited to the United States, where he is the target of a narcotics investigation.
The president has vehemently denied any ties to drug cartels.
Reporting by Yimou Lee; Additional reporting by Drazen Jorgic; Edited by Lincoln Feast.
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