Taiwan’s Foreign Minister affirms ties with Guatemala

Guatemala has reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining diplomatic ties with Taiwan, according to Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

Taipei, Oct. 5 (CNA)-Guatemalan officials have reassured Taiwan that bilateral relations remain stable, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Thursday, despite the country failing to speak up for Taiwan during the just-concluded United Nations General Assembly.

Guatemala was the only of the nation’s 17 diplomatic allies that did not publicly support Taiwan during the general debate or with a letter at the 73rd session of the U.N. General Assembly held at its headquarters in New York. This failure to publicly support Taiwan has been interpreted in some quarters as meaning Guatemala could soon switch recognition to Beijing.

Asked to comment on the issue during an interview with CNA, Wu stressed that bilateral cooperation and talks between Taiwan and Guatemala are progressing smoothly. The ministry has the utmost respect for its diplomatic allies and their decision how best to voice their support for Taiwan, he noted. “Officials from Guatemala told us not to worry about the diplomatic relationship,” Wu added.

Taiwan has lost five diplomatic allies since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016. Among them, three are in Central America and the Caribbean — Panama, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador. Meanwhile, commenting on the the Holy See-China deal on the appointment of Chinese bishops signed late last month and whether the pact will affect ties with Taiwan, Wu also expressed confidence. The Holy See has repeatedly reaffirmed to Taiwan that the provisional agreement is “not of a political or diplomatic nature,” he said.

The state of relations can be seen from Vice President Chen Chien-jen’s (陳建仁) upcoming trip to the Vatican to attend a ceremony to canonize Pope Paul VI and six others on Oct. 14, the minister said. In addition, the Holy See is scheduled to officially start the renovation of its embassy compound in Taipei next year, indicating the Vatican is planning to stay for a long time, Wu noted.

In general, Taiwan’s relations with its remaining 17 diplomatic allies remain “relatively stable,” the minister said.