Honduran official: US 'respects' decision on China relations
TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) -The U.S. government said it "respects" Honduras' decision to move towards establishing formal diplomatic ties with China, the Honduran foreign minister said on Monday after a meeting with U.S. officials, comments Taiwan disputed.
Enrique Reina said Honduras' President Xiomara Castro made "general comments" on the decision during the meeting attended by different officials such as U.S. Special Presidential Adviser for the Americas Chris Dodd.
Castro announced last week the country would seek diplomatic ties with Beijing, a move that risks further reducing Taiwan's pool of allies as China does not allow countries with which it has diplomatic relations to maintain official ties with Taiwan.
The U.S. State Department warned Honduras then that China makes many promises that are unfulfilled.
Reina has said that the pivot to China was partly because Honduras was "up to its neck" in financial challenges and debt - including $600 million it owes Taiwan.
On Tuesday, Taiwan Vice Foreign Minister Alexander Yui said Reina's remarks had "some inconsistencies" with the facts and Taiwan had "some understanding" of what happened in that meeting with U.S. officials, though added he could not go into details.
U.S. officials have said that Taiwan is a good partner and that Honduras should not fall into China's "trap", Yui added.
Taiwan is a friend of Honduras and it follows through on its promises, but it has clearly told the country it will not play dollar diplomacy with China, he said.
"It's them who are playing chequebook diplomacy, not us," Yui added, saying they have repeatedly warned Honduras not to believe China's promises.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will visit Guatemala and Belize on a trip at the end of this month, but while talks with Honduras continue it is "not appropriate" for Tsai to visit the country, Yui said.
Taiwan Vice President William Lai visited Honduras last year for Castro's inauguration.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory with no right to state-to-state ties, a position Taiwan strongly disputes.
Since 2016, when Tsai was elected Taiwan's president, Panama, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and most recently Nicaragua have opted to establish relations with China.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Gerry Doyle)