Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday left for Honduras via the US, saying that the visit shows Taiwan’s commitment to improving its relationship with the Central American ally.
Lai is leading a delegation on behalf of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to attend the inauguration of Honduran president-elect Xiomara Castro. Lai is to return on Saturday.
Speaking at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport before departure, Lai said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the delegation is traveling to Honduras to congratulate Castro and her incoming government, which shows Taiwan’s commitment to boosting bilateral ties and its support for the Central American nation.
Photo: Tony Yao, Taipei Times
He said the delegation would also donate medical aid to Honduras to help it fight the pandemic, without providing details.
“We will use concrete action and specific measures to show our support for deeper ties and the new government,” he said, adding that bilateral ties would continue based on pragmatism and reciprocity.
Describing Honduras as a key Central American ally for Taiwan, Lai said the two countries had gone through difficulties, and defied threats and enticements during eight decades of formal ties, while maintaining close and amicable relations.
Lai, who is to meet Castro today, said he would have “interactions and exchanges” with “leaders and deputy leaders” of allies and “friendly countries,” although he did not mention US Vice President Kamala Harris, who is also to attend the inauguration.
This is the first time that Lai is traveling overseas in an official capacity since taking office in May 2020.
Lai is to stop over in Los Angeles and San Francisco on the way to and from Tegucigalpa respectively, the Presidential Office said.
He is to spend more time in the US than in Honduras, his itinerary shows.
During the stopovers, he is to speak with US officials and politicians, as well as representatives of overseas Taiwanese communities, by telephone or videoconference, the office said.
Castro’s victory in the presidential election on Nov. 28 last year made her the first female president of Honduras, which established diplomatic ties with the Republic of China in 1941.
Castro, 62, is the wife of former Honduran president Jose Manuel Zelaya. Her victory had raised concerns in Taipei, as Castro had said during her election campaign that she would switch diplomatic recognition to China if she won.
However, two senior members of Castro’s transition team last month said that her government would maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
Separately yesterday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a news conference that the ministry has established good relations with the incoming Castro administration.
Taiwan would work closely with its ally to promote collaboration in areas that the incoming government has pledged to prioritize, such as economic recovery, education and public health, she said.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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