Tue, Jan 10, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Tsai welcomed in Honduras

Staff writer, with CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen, front left, and Honduran Vice President Ricardo Alvarez Arias hold their hands over their hearts while their national anthems are being played after Tsai’s arrival at Soto Cano Air Base outside Comayagua, Honduras, on Sunday.

Photo: AP

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) arrived in Honduras on Sunday on the first leg of her Central America trip, which is to also take her to Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Tsai received a red-carpet welcome at the airport, where she was greeted by Honduran Vice President Ricardo Alvarez Arias.

Tsai said she was very honored to visit Honduras at the invitation of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and extended her most cordial regards to the Honduran government and people.

Taiwan and Honduras, which last year marked 75 years of diplomatic relations, have had a close and mutually beneficial partnership, Tsai said, expressing the hope that both nations would continue to deepen that cooperation.

Tsai said she would discuss bilateral issues with Hernandez and visit major cooperation projects between the two nations.

Tsai said that relations between Taiwan and Honduras would continue to deepen, based on their foundation and increasing bilateral partnership.

Tsai also met with US Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott during a stopover in Houston, Texas, on Sunday.

In the meeting with Abbott, Tsai said that Taiwan and Texas have had trade, investment and tourism exchanges for many years, and that there are more than 100,000 Taiwanese expatriates in the state, with more than 50,000 in Houston.

Taiwan was Texas’ fifth-largest export market in Asia in 2015 and Taiwanese business groups, such as Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團), Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團), Inventec Corp (英業達) and Evergreen Group (長榮集團), have invested more than US$10 billion in the state, Tsai said.

Texas excels in the energy, biotechnology and defense sectors, areas that the government is promoting, Tsai said, adding that she hoped the two sides would have more chances for cooperation.

Abbott said that the business environment and regulations in Texas have led many Taiwanese businesses to continue to expand their investments there, and pledged to push for closer relations between Taiwan and Texas.

Cruz, a US Republican who endorsed US president-elect Donald Trump after losing to him in the presidential primary, publicly supported the Dec. 2 phone call between Tsai and Trump, which broke a decades-old convention of no contact between US and Taiwanese leaders.

Cruz said China had asked that he not meet with Tsai, but that he would not comply with such a request.

“In America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves,” he said.

“This is not about the People’s Republic of China. This is about the US relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend,” he said.

Cruz said he and Tsai discussed “arms sales, diplomatic exchanges and economic relations,” and that he hoped to increase trade between Texas and Taiwan.

American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty said in a separate meeting on Saturday with Tsai that the US has taken note of the chill in cross-strait relations and that Washington continues to urge China to resume dialogue with Taiwan, a presidential aide traveling with Tsai said.

Tsai also met Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and talked with US Senator John McCain over the telephone, in addition to meeting with Taiwanese expatriates.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) denied that Tsai had lunch with Edwin Feulner, a founder of the conservative Heritage Foundation, Walter Lohman, director of the foundation’s Asian Studies Center, or Randall Schriver, former US deputy assistant secretary of state for Asia.

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