Taiwan thanks Guatemala for support, humanitarian aid following deadly quake
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen reacts during a news conference in Taipei, Taiwan, 05 January 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Emergency response team standby as engineers inspects a building damaged by an earthquake in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, 10 February 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Taipei, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- The president of Taiwan on Friday thanked the Guatemalan minister of defense for his country's support for the island as well as for humanitarian assistance it provided following a deadly earthquake that struck last year.
Tsai Ing-wen met Luis Miguel Ralda as part of an official visit made by the Guatemalan minister to the East Asian state.
The trip was intended to improve political and defense links between the two sides, who have been allies for over 80 years, according to the Taiwanese government.
Taiwan's president met Ralda last year when he was visiting the island as part of military training exercises.
Tsai on Friday highlighted strong bilateral ties between both states, which she said were based on friendship and shared values.
Guatemala sent help to Taiwan following the devastating 6.4-magnitude earthquake that killed 17 people and left another 279 injured when it struck late on Feb. 6, 2018, near the city of Hualien on the east coast of the island.
Taiwan was able to return the favor in Nov. last year when the Fuego volcano in the Central American nation erupted, Tsai pointed out.
She also expressed thanks to Guatemala for its support for the island at a recent meeting of the World Health Organization executive board, at which the Latin American country made a push for Taiwan to be able to participate within the organization.
Both Tsai and Ralda also expressed their wishes for bilateral cooperation to continue in the future.
Taiwan maintains important ties with Guatemala in the arenas of defense and economics.
The state also promotes the import of Guatemalan products such as coffee and sugar.
Guatemala is one of nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that have diplomatic ties with the East Asian state.
Only 17 countries in the world have diplomatic links with Taiwan owing to China's sovereign claim over the island.
China has called on its own allies to break off any official ties they have with Taiwan.
Taiwan is an island territory located off the southeastern coast of China.