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Dentist celebrated for service to Hondurans

TAIPEI -- The Honduran government on Thursday granted an award to Taiwanese-American dentist Leon Chen for performing free dental implant surgeries in the Central American country.

Alejandro Young, outgoing Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy of Honduras in Taiwan, presented the award to Chen at a ceremony in Taipei in recognition of the dentist's contribution.

In response, Chen said it was an honor to receive the award and he expressed gratitude to the group of dentists who traveled with him to Honduras in 2012.

“It's my honor to contribute my work,” Chen said at the ceremony, offering to provide similar services to other countries.

Chen said he led a group of dentists from Taiwan, Japan and China on a visit to Honduras in 2012 and performed dental implantations on about 200 people from disadvantaged families there.

Before his visit to Honduras, Chen said, he had performed similar services in the Dominican Republic, also one of Taiwan's diplomatic allies.

Chen, who is based in the U.S. and owns a dental implant institute, said he is willing to offer his services to help promote Taiwan's ties with its allies.

The award ceremony was attended by members of the diplomatic corps in Taiwan, including Misael Vallecille who will succeed Young as Honduras' representative to Taiwan.

Vallecille said he had no information on when Honduras would assign a new ambassador to Taiwan, when asked by CNA about the issue on the sidelines of the ceremony.

Honduras recalled its Ambassador to Taiwan Mario Alberto Fortin Midence last May, amid reported plans to forge closer ties with China and concerns that it will eventually shift diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Since then, Honduras has been represented in Taiwan by a charge d'affaires.

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