Paraguayan president to visit Taiwan to celebrate 60 years of ties

Taipei--Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes will head a delegation to Taiwan next week on a state visit, during which he will attend events to celebrate the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

During the visit from July 11-13, Cartes will receive a military salute presided over by President Tsai Ing-wen, the ministry said in a statement. The presidents will jointly attend other events to celebrate the long-standing ties between the two countries, it added.

The delegation will include Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga, Industry and Commerce Minister Gustavo Leite and other government officials and parliamentarians, the ministry said.

In addition to meetings with Taiwanese officials, the delegation will also hold meetings with Taiwanese businesspeople in an effort to promote bilateral trade and economic exchanges, the ministry said.

This will be Cartes' third visit to Taiwan since he took office as the South American country's president in 2013, it said.

The Republic of China (Taiwan) and Paraguay established official ties on July 12, 1957.

"For many years, both countries have maintained close exchanges and cooperation in trade, health, education, military and agriculture," the ministry said.

The two countries will continue to promote bilateral cooperation that is reciprocal and mutually beneficial, based on the existing foundation, it said.

Paraguay is Taiwan's only diplomatic ally in South America.

Cartes' visit comes after Taiwan recently lost two diplomatic allies, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

Panama cut formal ties with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with China on June 13, leaving Taipei with only 20 diplomatic allies.

Panama was the second country to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing since President Tsai took office in May 2016, the first being the African country of Sao Tome and Principe in December 2016.

The incidents came amid strained ties across the Taiwan Strait, mainly due to Tsai's refusal to heed Beijing's calls to accept the "1992 consensus" as the sole political foundation of cross-strait exchanges.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, which was then under a Kuomintang government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council