Honduras’ incoming government would maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, two senior members of the transition team said on Friday, while a senior US administration official said that Washington was ready to “surge” economic aid to the new administration.
The news comes a day after neighboring Nicaragua switched allegiance to re-establish relations with China.
Prior to winning the Honduran presidential election on Nov. 28, Xiomara Castro of the leftist Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE) said if victorious, she would open diplomatic ties with China, but her team has since backtracked on that stance.
Gerardo Torres, LIBRE’s secretary of international relations and a member of Castro’s transition team, said that her government was not about to sever ties with Taipei.
“The new government will maintain relations with Taiwan,” he said. “President-elect Xiomara Castro has been clear, these ties will be maintained. Nobody in the party wants to enter government distancing ourselves from the United States.”
Nevertheless, another of the transition team members, Rodolfo Pastor, kept open the possibility that Honduras would recognize China, calling it a “new superpower” and saying that the Central American country was studying the matter.
Pastor said that Castro wanted to diversify Honduras’ international relations, while emphasizing that there would be “no imminent change” in the relationship with Taiwan as there had been in Nicaragua.
Honduras is eager to work with the US on stamping out the corruption that fuels emigration north, Pastor said, adding that Castro and US President Joe Biden’s administration wanted to tackle the root causes of migration.
Castro’s government would work to maintain good relations with Washington, provided they were based on mutual respect and sovereignty, Pastor said.
Looking ahead, Pastor said it was important for Honduras to find a way of reducing its debt burden so that it could invest in public infrastructure such as hospitals and schools.
Meanwhile, Washington has continued to make the case to Honduras and other countries in the Americas that recognize Taiwan to maintain those ties, and has warned them about China’s intentions and “non-transparent” investment strategy in the region, the US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official said that while Washington was uncertain whether Castro would swat away China’s advances, initial discussions with her transition team have been very positive, including on issues such as boosting economic growth, improving governance and installing an anti-corruption body.
The US is open to sending more financial help to aid Castro on her priority areas as part of broader efforts to show relations with the US are more beneficial to Tegucigalpa than ties with China, the they said.
“I think we can surge resources there, and some of that will be through development resources,” the official said, adding that allies such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea could help with accelerating private-sector growth.
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