President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of August 11 with Minister of National Defense Samuel Armando Reyes Redon from the Republic of Honduras. In addition to explaining the wide-ranging interaction and cooperation between the two countries, the president also expressed hope for continued strengthening of interaction and a long lasting alliance.
In remarks, President Ma stated that Minister Reyes was appointed to his current position in January of last year and that he has made outstanding contributions in bolstering national defense-related affairs in his country and also promoting military interaction and cooperation between the ROC and Honduras. Minister Reyes' performance has won applause from many sectors of society, said the president.
Discussing the alliance between the two countries, President Ma noted that the ROC and Honduras established diplomatic relations 74 years ago in 1941. At that time, the ROC was involved in the War of Resistance Against Japan, and during that time Honduras resolutely maintained its friendship towards the ROC, proving the old adage that a friend in need is a friend indeed. The president pointed out that Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez made a state visit to the ROC this past July, during which the two sides signed a joint communique that lifts the bilateral relationship to a new level. Moreover, over the course of their diplomatic relationship, the two countries have maintained close interaction and cooperation in a wide range of areas including economics and trade, humanitarian assistance, infrastructure, academics, military affairs, and medicine. The results of this cooperation have been impressive, he said.
President Ma mentioned that he has visited Honduras three times, with the first time in August 2000 in his capacity as mayor of Taipei City. Subsequently, he made visits to that nation in 2010 and 2014 to attend the inauguration ceremonies for former President Porfirio Lobo Sosa and current President Hernandez. President Ma said that the hardworking spirit and sincere hospitality of the people of Honduras made a deep impression on him.
The president then pointed to bilateral cooperation, indicating that in recent years the governments of the two countries have continued technical cooperation projects in agriculture and fishing, while also forging closer cooperation in the areas of education and culture. For instance, under its Taiwan Scholarship program, the ROC each year provides scholarships to 30 outstanding Honduran students, assisting them in coming to Taiwan to pursue advanced studies. A total of 11 Honduran military affairs students are presently studying in Taiwan, while six students from the ROC are studying at military academies in Honduras. This is not only helping to cultivate talent in the area of military diplomacy, but also establishing a long-term foundation for bilateral military interaction, he said.
The president then thanked the Honduran government for speaking on behalf of the ROC in international venues for many years and supporting participation for Taiwan in the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the World Health Assembly. President Ma said that the ROC is deeply appreciative of the longstanding strong support and friendship extended by Honduras.
The president also mentioned that in March of this year the ROC transferred three UH-1H helicopters to Honduras and that in the future the ROC will assist Honduras to repair and maintain the helicopters through guidance provided via audio-visual mechanisms. In addition, the ROC in recent years has donated ambulances to the military hospital in Honduras, along with vehicles used for official, military, and police business. The ROC is also supporting the construction of a military history museum in that nation and the modernization of military hardware factories, while at the same time assisting in the establishment of a regional training and learning center at the humanitarian assistance command center with the hope of sharing the ROC's disaster prevention and rescue experience with Honduras, he stated.
President Ma noted that in September of 2014 the Honduran government requested, and received, ROC assistance in purchasing urgently needed medical and health supplies, alleviating their shortage of medical resources. Also, in light of the El Nino weather pattern that impacted diplomatic partners in Central America last year and led to poor crops and shortages of staple foods, the ROC immediately provided drought-relief assistance to Honduras. The president hopes that all of these moves will strengthen bilateral cooperation, thereby effectively reducing the impact of natural disasters on the Honduran public.