At 10:30 a.m. on Monday, January 9 Honduras time (00:30 a.m. January 10 Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen proceeded to the Honduran Presidential Palace to call on Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez. President Tsai and her delegation were received with a grand welcoming ceremony, and after the playing of the two countries' national anthems and introductions of cabinet heads and members of the visiting delegation, the heads of state of Taiwan and Honduras engaged in a bilateral talk on matters of shared concern, followed by continued talks with cabinet heads present. After the talks, President Tsai and President Hernandez held a joint press conference at the Honduran Presidential Palace to explain the results of the talks.
In her remarks at the press conference, President Tsai thanked President Hernandez and the First Lady for the support and friendship they have shown Taiwan. Very soon after confirmation of her election as president of Taiwan in 2016, the first congratulatory message received by President Tsai was from President Hernandez, and when President Hernandez and the First Lady visited Taiwan in October of last year, they invited President Tsai to visit Honduras.
That is why, said President Tsai, she decided to make beautiful Honduras the first stop on this visit to four of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America. This country combines ancient Mayan culture with modern development, and under the leadership of President Hernandez we have seen a robust, prosperous, and vigorous country, which has left a deep impression on her and the visiting delegation.
President Tsai stated that she was very happy during the current visit to tour the Basilica of Suyapa and to get a clearer picture of the successes that have been achieved through the One Town One Product (OTOP) project that Taiwan is supporting.
President Tsai mentioned that she had met the previous evening with young Hondurans who have studied in Taiwan as beneficiaries of the Taiwan Scholarship program. Their experiences studying in Taiwan and their subsequent careers in Honduras all stand as positive achievements of the two countries' diplomatic relationship, and are something that both countries can be proud of. President Tsai said she and President Hernandez both agreed that the Taiwan Scholarship program ought to be expanded, and President Hernandez noted that Honduras could provide part of the funding needed for an expansion while Taiwan could provide more enrollment opportunities and scholarships to young Hondurans so they can study and receive technical training in Taiwan. In the future, these people would be available to support industrial and economic development in Honduras.
President Tsai said she was very happy that Taiwan has always played a part in the development of important domains in Honduras such as industry, technology, and education. We hope to work together with Honduras to achieve still more joint successes. In the talk a bit earlier with President Hernandez, she noted, they had an in-depth exchange of views regarding bilateral relations, cooperation projects, and other matters of shared concern. In such areas as textile, tourism, agriculture, and processing industries, we will work together to see that better Honduran products are produced here and can be smoothly marketed in Taiwan and around the world. Also, President Hernandez said that they would arrange for Honduras to serve as an important gateway to Central America for Taiwan, and President Tsai fully supported this comment. She also hoped that Honduras will regard Taiwan as a gateway to Asia.
Commenting on the development of micro-businesses in Honduras, President Tsai said that Taiwan is quite experienced on this front and would be willing to help Honduras promote micro-business development. In addition, we intend to organize our companies so they'll have opportunities to go to Honduras on scouting trips to identify more investment opportunities there. Hopefully their investment and trading activities in Honduras will create more job opportunities in Honduras.
President Tsai noted that she strongly agreed with President Hernandez when he said that this visit to Honduras and the visit to Taiwan last October by President Hernandez constitute an important watershed in bilateral relations, for our friendly diplomatic ties will now shift toward a mutually beneficial relationship based primarily on economic and trade ties.
President Tsai stated that while Taiwan and Honduras are geographically far apart, the longstanding friendship between the two countries shortens that distance. Although international conditions change constantly, and both countries continue to face our own challenges, our desire to help each other also remains unchanged.
President Tsai said Taiwan is willing to continue sharing its development experience, enhancing its close partnership with Honduras, and working together to promote prosperity and the quality of life in both countries. President Tsai once again thanked the government and people of Honduras for the invitation and warm hospitality they extended to her and the delegation, and wished a bright future for Honduras and a lasting alliance between the two countries.