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Paraguay president to visit Taiwan next week
Paraguay President Mario Abdo is set to visit Taiwan next week as the island nation looks to shore up ties with one of its longtime allies. The visit also comes ahead of an election in Paraguay in April that could mark the end of diplomatic relations in favor of China.
The Taiwanese foreign ministry issued a statement on Thursday saying that Abdo will be visiting the island from February 14 to February 18 with his foreign and commerce ministers. Abdo will be meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and attending a meeting on beef promotion and investment opportunities. Paraguay is one of 14 countries to maintain formal diplomatic relations with the island nation that China claims its territory.
“Taiwan and Paraguay have had diplomatic relations for more than 65 years and a deep friendship,” said the ministry.
Abdo is not running for re-election, and Paraguay’s ruling Colorado Party candidate Santiago Pena, has said that the country’s relations with Taiwan will remain intact should he win in the April 30 elections. The country’s ties with Taiwan have come under pressure, especially due to its beef producers and farmers who argue that relations with the island are an obstacle to accessing the world’s largest market.
Latin and Central America have usually had relations with the island, but China has begun to exert its influence over the region. Nicaragua became the latest country to favor ties with China in 2021. The issue has also taken on a wider significance as the United States has expressed concerns about China expanding its influence in the region.
On the same day, the Taiwanese presidential office announced that Tsai and vice president William Lai would each be donating a month’s salary to aid in earthquake disaster efforts in Turkey and Syria in addition to the existing aid the island is sending. Tsai and Lai “hope to do their part to help Turkey rebuild its homeland as soon as possible,” said the statement.
Tsai visited the de facto Turkish embassy in Taipei to sign a book of condolence for the thousands of people that perished in the tremor.
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