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September 22, 2017

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Visit to Honduras nothing to do with saving ties: deputy foreign minister

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Deputy Foreign Minister Simon Ko (柯森耀) yesterday said his recent visit to Taiwan's diplomatic ally Honduras has nothing to do with rumors that the Central American nation could sever ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing.

The visit to Honduras is part of a regular inspection tour to Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the Central American and Caribbean region, Ko said yesterday.

The tour involves inspecting the operation of Taiwan's embassies in the area, he noted. According to MOFA, Ko visited the region in May.

The deputy minister downplayed media speculation that bilateral ties had been compromised and were tilting in favor of rival China in the wake of Taiwan declining to meet a request for increased financial assistance.

The Honduran government is yet to send a replacement after former ambassador to Taiwan Mario Alberto Fortin Midence was called back home for a new assignment in May.

There have been growing concerns since late last year that Honduras would open a trade office in China and might eventually switch its recognition to Beijing.

Asked to comment, Ko yesterday reiterated that there has been no change to the friendly relationship between Taiwan and Honduras despite the diplomatic ally having yet to send its new ambassador to Taipei.

The nation's diplomatic relations with Honduras are friendly and normal, he stressed.

Ko also reiterated Taiwan's stance that it is not opposed to its allies developing "unofficial" economic relations with China as long as the move doesn't affect their ties with Taiwan.

The Honduran Embassy's envoy currently serves as charge d'affaires until a new ambassador is appointed and sent to Taiwan, he said, adding that the move will not affect the smooth dialogue between the both sides.

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