Guatemala President Morales voices unwavering support for Taiwan

Guatemala leader Jimmy Morales arrived in Taiwan on his first state visit Tuesday

Guatemalan President Morales and President Tsai, A...

Guatemalan President Morales and President Tsai, A... (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- Guatemala President Jimmy Morales said Tuesday on his first state visit to Taiwan that his country's support for and friendship toward Taiwan was unwavering.

Speaking shortly after his arrival, at a military welcome ceremony hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Morales said he was happy to meet with the Taiwan leader for the third time in three years.

The two had previously met in Guatemala in January 2017 and at the inauguration of Paraguay President Mario Abdo Benitez in August 2018.

Morales, who took office as president in January 2017, said Tuesday that Taiwan and Guatemala are allies because they have shared values of peace and democracy.

He highly praised Tsai's leadership, saying that around the world, Taiwan is seen as a beacon of freedom and democracy, and it will always have Guatemala's support.

By making his first state visit to Taiwan, Morales said, he hoped to show the world Guatemala's unwavering support for and friendship toward the ally.

The state visit, Morales' first to Taiwan, is also aimed at boosting bilateral trade and investment, he said.

In addition to Guatemala's high quality coffee, which has been well received in the Taiwan market, there are other products that can be exported to its diplomatic allies, Morales said.

In the area of investment, Taiwan can take advantage of Guatemala's proximity to the huge United States market, thus creating a mutually beneficial situation, Morales said at the welcome ceremony, which included a 21-gun salute.

In Tsai's address, she welcomed Morales and noted that he had traveled more than 14,000 kilometers to visit Taiwan.

Despite the great geographical distance between Taiwan and Guatemala, she said, their friendship has endured for more than 85 years and remains strong and stable.

During Morales four-day state visit, he is scheduled to hold discussions with Tsai on future cooperation projects.

He and his delegation, which includes his wife Hilda Patricia Marroquín Argueta de Morales and Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel, will also attend a state banquet hosted by Tsai, and engage in cultural activities that will include a tour of the National Palace Museum, according to the foreign ministry.