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Taiwan ally Guatemala mulls commercial ties with China, foreign minister says

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Guatemala's new Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Ramiro Martinez speaks during an interview with Reuters, at his office in Guatemala C...

Guatemala's new Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Ramiro Martinez speaks during an interview with Reuters, at his office in Guatemala C...

Guatemala is considering reaching out to develop formal trade ties with China, the Central American country's foreign minister told Reuters on Monday, although it plans to maintain its existing relations with Taiwan.

The Central American country is one of a handful of Taiwan's remaining allies, as countries increasingly side with the world's No. 2 economy, which claims democratically-ruled Taiwan as its territory.

"We are going to continue working with Taiwan at the levels we have been doing," Foreign Minister Carlos Ramiro Martinez said in an interview. "But the president has pointed out that we cannot ignore the weight and power China represents."

President Bernardo Arevalo assumed office in mid-January amid a fraught transition process, vowing to put an end to corruption and also establish relations with China.

"We are interested in approaching them to try and develop some relationship around trade," Martinez said, saying this could materialize as an "office of trade interests" that would help find a Chinese market for Guatemalan products.

"We are making it public, this is not an ambush against Taiwan or the United States," he added.