President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to relations and cooperation between the two nations, with Tsai saying that Taiwan will continue to support a Guatemalan highway expansion project, a proposal put forward by Morales.
Tsai received a military salute hosted by Morales at the National Palace of Culture shortly after she arrived in Guatemala earlier in the day.
At the ceremony, Morales extended his warmest welcome to Tsai, who is visiting the country as Taiwan’s president for the first time.
He reaffirmed the two countries’ commitment to bolstering their friendship and maintaining bilateral cooperation.
Noting their longstanding cooperation, he said that Guatemalans have benefited from bilateral cooperation in public health, infrastructure, agriculture and education.
Morales expressed gratitude for Taiwan’s help with the highway project and expressed hope that Taiwan would continue to provide assistance in the fourth stage of the expansion project, which he said would greatly improve transportation in the nation.
He also expressed hope that the two nations would expand cooperation in investment, tourism, energy, science and infrastructure.
Following the welcome ceremony, the two leaders held talks and conferred medals on each other before holding a joint news conference.
At the news conference, Tsai said that during the meeting, she reiterated her administration’s determination to promote “steadfast diplomacy” and its hope of seeking bilateral cooperation that will be mutually beneficial.
The two leaders discussed plans for cooperation in infrastructure, medicine and education during the meeting, she said.
Bilateral cooperation in the highway project and medicine-related programs have been progressing well, and Taiwan is willing to continue to promote such projects, she added.
Regarding the highway project, Tsai said: “We are pleased to have taken part in the first three phases,” adding that Taiwan will continue to provide assistance.
The Taiwanese embassy in Guatemala will conduct further discussions with Guatemalan government agencies to work out details of the cooperation, Tsai said.
On the development of bilateral relations, Tsai said her visit to Guatemala is aimed at boosting tourism and parliamentary exchanges, advancing trade relations and improving the links between the people and governments of the two nations.
Tsai said Guatemala is rich in tourism resources, such as the old city of Antigua, which she is scheduled to visit during her trip.
Guatemala is also strong in the coffee industry, she said, adding that a delegation of Taiwanese companies is soon to visit Guatemala to explore the possibility of helping export local coffee to Taiwan.
Guatemala is the third leg of Tsai’s Central American tour, which also includes Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
She is to travel to El Salvador before returning to Taiwan on Sunday, with a stopover in San Francisco.
Tsai’s nine-day Central American visit is aimed at consolidating ties with Taiwan’s diplomatic allies there after the small West African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan on Dec. 20 last year.
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