Keep ties with Taiwan: US to Honduran presidential candidates

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Washington made its intentions clear to the presidential candidates in Honduras that it wants the country to maintain its long-standing diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The stand of the US was conveyed to the candidates by a visiting US delegation, a senior State Department official said on Wednesday. Honduras is set for elections on November 28.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said the US has warned Central American nations of “some of the risks associated with China’s approach to the region.”

Xiomara Castro had earlier said that if she won the race, she would switch diplomatic relations to Beijing over Taiwan. However, one of her close aides said that no final decision had been made.

Castro, the main opposition leftist candidate, is leading as per the latest polls.

Honduras is one of 15 countries, the majority in Central America and the Caribbean, that maintains diplomatic relations with self-ruled Taiwan.

The US is concerned about Beijing’s growing influence in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere.

China has been making efforts to whittle away at Taiwan’s remaining allies.

“We’ve been quite clear with all the key actors in Honduras why we think the Honduras-Taiwan relationship is so important,” a State Department official told reporters in a telephone briefing.

“We’d like to see that continue. We’ve said that to both of the leading candidates directly,” the official said, referring to meetings with a delegation led by Brian Nichols, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere.

China views democratically ruled Taiwan as one of its provinces, while Taiwan maintains that it is an independent country.

The US welcomed Castro’s promise to institute a United Nations-backed anti-corruption commission if elected.

Whoever wins, the U.S. government intends to continue naming Central American politicians it considers corrupt and will take measures against them, including U.S. visa bans, the officials were quoted as saying in a Reuters report.

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