March 18, 2019
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Taiwan cooperating with US in Latin America to consolidate alliances

Taipei, Mar 14 (efe-epa).- Taiwan maintains a special relationship with the United States and has been widely cooperating with Washington to consolidate its diplomatic ties in Latin America that are under threat from China, the island's minister of foreign affairs said Thursday.

"The cooperation between United States and Taiwan is in our interest and the bilateral interest," said Joseph Wu at a press conference.

The island "gives a lot of importance to all allies" who help Taiwan to have a voice in international organizations, said Wu, who also announced that Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, wanted to visit them all before the end of her term.

Now, Taiwan has means to maintain its alliances, as it has been working actively with the US on matters of security and foreign affairs, and Washington has also sent officials to allied countries to help Taipei consolidate its ties, according to the minister.

Taiwan has, for example, cooperated with the US on humanitarian aid in Venezuela and also in garnering support in Asia for recognizing Juan Guaido as interim president of the South American country, besides having common interests in fostering freedom and democracy and warding off China's negative influence, said Wu.

Taiwan said it was closely monitoring the situation in El Salvador against the decision of the new government to review ties with China and the decision of the Central American country's top court to provisionally suspend the cancellation of its free trade agreement with the island.

Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez, who broke off ties with Taiwan and established new ones with China in Aug. 2018, canceled its free trade agreement with the island.

The US condemned El Salvador for breaking off diplomatic ties with Taiwan in an unprecedented move.

After the victory of president-elect Nayib Bukele in the elections and his declarations in favor of reviewing ties with China, Taiwan has been harboring hopes that their ties may resume.

China makes "promises of huge development projects, but we also understand that when the development projects are big, they are not able to finance it by themselves, they need to ask loans from China (...) and this is the debt-trap diplomacy," said Wu.

Taiwan currently maintains official ties with 17 countries, of which nine are in Latin America and the Caribbean, making it its main diplomatic bastion.

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