President Tsai addresses Guatemalan Congress, reaffirms bilateral ties

Guatemala City-President Tsai Ing-wen (???) delivered a speech to the Congress of Guatemala Thursday, during which she reaffirmed the value of the long-standing relations between Taiwan and the Central American country and her administration's commitment to "steadfast diplomacy."

Although Taiwan is geographically far from Guatemala, the two countries have maintained a friendship for more than 80 years and they share common values such as democracy, she said.

Tsai's speech was broadcast live on Guatemala's congressional TV channel, which was set up with Taiwan's assistance, and marked the launch of the system.

Since she took office in May 2016, Tsai said, her administration has been promoting relations with other countries based on "steadfast diplomacy," which seeks mutually beneficial cooperation.

She cited the example of an ongoing highway expansion project in Guatemala, which is being carried out with Taiwan's assistance and involves the work of a Taiwanese engineering construction company.

"We believe that infrastructure construction is conducive to industrial development and prosperity in the society," Tsai said.

She said Taiwan is providing assistance to Guatemala, not only in the area of public infrastructure, but also in education and the cultivation of talent.

The 51 Guatemalans currently studying in Taiwan on scholarships provided by Taiwan will become citizen ambassadors when they return home and will help deepen bilateral relations, Tsai said.

She said the two countries are also engaged in cooperation in the area of public health and are discussing a new project to provide medical care for pregnant women and newborns.

Furthermore, industries such as agro-processing, green energy, logistics, digital information and communication technology, which Central American countries are seeking to develop, are also of interest to Taiwan, Tsai said.

She expressed the hope the Taiwanese businesses representatives in her delegation would learn more about business opportunities in Guatemala.

In an effort to build Taiwan's trade relations with Central America, Tsai said, her government will organize more regular visits by Taiwanese business delegations to Central America to explore investment and procurement opportunities.

In the spirit of reciprocity, Taiwan will try to find new paths for bilateral cooperation with its diplomatic allies to achieve mutually beneficial results, Tsai said.

At the Congress, she also signed the visitors' book, writing "fight for democracy, pursue freedom."

The previous day, Tsai assured Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales that Taiwan was willing to continue its assistance into the fourth stage of Guatemala's CA-9 highway expansion project.

Guatemala was the third leg of Tsai's state visit to four Central American countries, including Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

She has since traveled to El Salvador on the final leg of her nine-day state visit and is scheduled to return to Taiwan on Jan. 15 via San Francisco.

Tsai's visit to Central America is aimed at consolidating ties with Taiwan's diplomatic allies in that region after the small West African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan on Dec. 20, 2016.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel