Tue, Jan 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Honduras invites Tsai to visit Maya ruins on next visit

Staff writer, with CNA

Honduras would welcome another visit by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and would arrange a special tour of the Mayan Copan ruins for her, Honduran Ambassador to Taiwan Rafael Fernando Sierra Quesada said.

Tsai was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on his re-election, symbolizing the nations’ strong ties, despite Beijing’s efforts to lure away Taiwan’s Central American allies, Sierra told media on Thursday.

Tsai on Wednesday delivered her congratulations in a video conference call, sending regards on behalf of the government and people of Taiwan to Hernandez, who was on Dec. 17 declared the winner of his nation’s November elections amid claims of fraud by the opposition.

Panama, one of Taiwan’s olders allies, in 2016 switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, triggering speculation of a domino effect in Latin America and the Caribbean, where 11 of the nation’s remaining 20 diplomatic allies are located.

Tsai last visited the region in January 2016, when she toured Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Asked to comment on media speculation that Tsai is likely to visit Central America again early this year to cement ties, Sierra said he was not aware of any such arrangement, but that Honduras would love to welcome her again.

If Tsai does visit again, he would arrange for her to tour Copan, one of the most spectacular sites to see ruins from the ancient Mayan civilization, Sierra said.

Sierra said he hoped Tsai would plant a tree at the ruins, as Japanese Princess Sayako did in 2003.

On the issue of enhancing bilateral ties, Sierra said that Taiwan and Honduras should work together for the benefit of both nations.

Since he took office as ambassador in 2015, he has been pushing for closer bilateral trade and, as a result, Honduran exports to Taiwan have tripled in the past two-and-a-half years from US$44 million to US$102 million, Sierra said.

“We do not want money from Taiwan, but rather something that both countries can benefit from,” he said.

For instance, if Taiwan would help to improve agricultural technology in Honduras, produce could be sold in Taiwan at a better price, he said.

Taiwan would benefit from such an approach, because it could import food at a better price, while Honduras would profit from Taiwan’s training of its farmers to improve production, Sierra said.

The first batch of Honduran sweet melons produced under this model is to arrive in Taiwan later this month after the government approves their importation, Sierra said.

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