Taiwan to strengthen ties with El Salvador's next president
Mar 16, 2009, 23:36 GMT
Taipei - Taiwan has congratulated Mauricio Funes on his victory in El Salvador's presidential election and vowed to strengthen diplomatic ties with the Central American country, the Central News Agency (CNA) said Tuesday.
CNA said that after Funes, the left-wing candidate, had won the Sunday's election, Taiwan's ambassador to El Salvador Liao Shih-chieh went to Funes' campaign headquarters to deliver the message of congratulation from President Ma Ying-jeou.
Liao, in a telephone interview with CNA, said that Taiwan-El Salvador ties are smooth and that El Salvador knows that Taiwan is trying to help El Salvador. The two countries have many cooperative programmes, including Taipei's helping to eradicate poverty in El Salvador.
Liao said that a year ago, Funes was advocating launching diplomatic ties with China, but he is no longer talking about the change.
'After Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008 and unveiled the new diplomatic initiative (calling for diplomatic truce with China), Funes is no longer talking about recognizing China, saying only that El Salvador should pay attention to large markets like China and India,' CNA quoted Liao as saying.
Liao said he plans to call on Funes' team to promote understanding between Taiwan and El Salvador's new government.
On Sunday, Funes, from the left-wing opposition party Farabundo Marti Front for the National Liberation (FMLN), won 51.27 per cent of the vote, putting an end to the two-decade rule by the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party.
In his victory speech after the election win, Funes vowed to create a welfare state for the people and make El Salvador 'the most dynamic economy in Central America,' but did not mention El Salvador's relations with Taiwan or possible ties with China.
El Salvador is one of the 23 mostly small countries that recognize Taiwan.
China sees Taiwan as its breakaway province and used to woo these countries to drop Taipei and recognize Beijing, but stopped the effort after Ma took office and Ma called for a diplomatic truce so that Taipei and Beijing could improve ties.
Taiwan's press has reported that in recent months, a couple of Taiwan's allies have approached China to discuss recognizing Beijing, but China turned them down because it does not want to hurt reconciliation with Taipei.