The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said it would continue to negotiate with Honduras in the hope that the nation’s Central American ally will assign a new ambassador to Taiwan to succeed outgoing Honduran ambassador Mario Alberto Fortin Midence.
“Of course we still hope that ambassador Fortin will help us [with the matter] that Honduras sends a new ambassador [to Taiwan] after his departure,” Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said.
He was responding to media queries about a report carried by the Chinese-language United Daily News, according to which the Honduran embassy in Taiwan will in future be headed by a charge d’affaires instead of an ambassador.
A charge d’affaires is the title of the head of a diplomatic mission when no ambassador or minister is assigned to the mission. A charge d’affaires is inferior in rank to an ambassador or a minister.
The United Daily News cited unnamed sources, identified only as a foreign diplomat stationed in Taiwan, as saying that Fortin was asked to return to Honduras and that Honduras has decided that the head of its diplomatic mission in Taiwan would be a charge d’affaires.
Honduras made the decision to pave the way for the country to further develop its relationship with China, the United Daily News reported.
Lin yesterday confirmed that Fortin is to return to Honduras, because Honduran Minister of Foreign Affairs Mireya Aguero has asked him to serve as an adviser.
After Fortin leaves Taiwan in the coming days, the Embassy of Honduras in Taiwan will be headed by Minister Alejandro Young, according to the ministry.
It is a “reasonable arrangement” and the arrangement is “in accordance with diplomatic practices” in bilateral relationships, where a minister stands in for an absent ambassador as an interim head of mission, Lin said.
However, Lin declined to comment on whether the Honduran embassy is to be headed by a charge d’affaires on a temporary basis or for an undetermined period of time.
“We will continue our efforts to negotiate with Honduras and we hope they will send a new ambassador in the near future,” Lin said.
Lin added that he has discussed the issue with Fortin.
Fortin presented his credentials to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in August.
Pressed about how Honduras has responded to the ministry’s request, Lin said the two nations are “still in the process of negotiation.”
Lin dismissed concerns that the issue was a sign of Honduras planning to switch allegiance to China, saying that the relations between Taiwan and Honduras remain stable.
Earlier this month, Aguero said Honduras is “open” to diplomatic relations with China.
According to an Agence France-Presse report on May 17, Aguero said the possibility of forging ties with Beijing remains open, because opening ties to Beijing would allow Honduras to better achieve its “objectives in international relations.”
In December, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa indicated his intention to establish diplomatic ties with China in a statement posted on his office’s Web site.
China is a very attractive market because it has established itself as a world power in the economic and commercial sphere, Lobo said.
Lobo said at the time that there are clear intentions to open diplomatic relations with China, although this should not affect relations with Taiwan.