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President Tsai and Guatemalan President Morales attend joint press conference, exchange decorations
President Tsai and Guatemalan President Morales attend joint press conference, exchange decorations

President Tsai Ing-wen and her accompanying delegation, who are currently in Central America on a trip codenamed the "Ing-Jie Project," attended a joint press conference with the Guatemalan president at the National Palace of Culture at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, January 11 local time (2:00 a.m. on January 12 Taipei time).

Before the press conference began, President Tsai presented a gift of medicines and student book bags to Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales as a token of her desire to promote bilateral cooperation in the fields of medicine and education. President Tsai and President Morales also exchanged decorations. President Morales conferred the Order of the Quetzal in the Degree of Great Collar upon President Tsai, and President Tsai conferred the Order of Brilliant Jade with Grand Cordon upon President Morales, with the hope that the two countries will continue to enhance their diplomatic ties and cooperation.

In remarks, President Tsai noted that Guatemala has rich stores of natural resources, a precious cultural heritage, and friendly people. She said she felt honored to have the opportunity to visit such a beautiful country, and also conveyed to the government and people of Guatemala the warm and friendly greetings of the people of Taiwan.

President Tsai said she was very grateful to President Morales for welcoming her with grand military honors, and for conferring upon her the Order of the Quetzal in the Degree of Great Collar, Guatemala's highest honor. We are also taking advantage of this opportunity, she added, to exchange views with President Morales regarding matters of shared concern. The president expressed deep respect for President Morales in light of his political accomplishments and the efforts he has made to promote relations with Taiwan.

President Tsai reported that in her talk a bit earlier with President Morales she had reiterated Taiwan's determination to promote a policy of "steadfast diplomacy." The idea is to engage in increased dialogue to identify more opportunities for cooperation, establish substantive relations through mutual assistance for mutual benefits, ensure more stable and long-lasting diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Guatemala, and improve the lives of people in both countries.

President Tsai stated that Taiwan is able and determined to contribute to the international community, so we have been active participants in the World Health Assembly, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and other international bodies. We are very grateful to Guatemala for its support in this respect. Diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Guatemala date back more than 80 years, and bilateral cooperative relations have always been close.

President Tsai mentioned that Taiwan and Guatemala have engaged in concrete talks and planning on bilateral cooperation projects that have a bearing on the three main focal points of government policy that President Morales has adopted – infrastructure, health, and education. The two countries are currently collaborating on widening of Highway CA-9 (the Atlantic Highway) and a project for the donation of medicines. Considerable successes have been achieved on both these fronts.

President Tsai emphasized that Taiwan would be willing to continue promoting related cooperation projects, and hopes to enhance bilateral exchanges in such areas as agricultural technology, infrastructure, culture, and especially tourism. The idea is to make diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Guatemala a model of "steadfast diplomacy and mutual assistance for mutual benefits."

President Tsai pointed out that the delegation had brought some items with them to Guatemala—including badly needed medicines and 1,000 student book bags made in Taiwan—for donation to the charity run by the First Lady. In addition, another 30,000 book bags will also be delivered as soon as possible so that Guatemalan children can use them to carry their books to school. Hopefully they will feel happy to have the bags, and will feel the warm concern from the people of Taiwan.

In concluding her remarks, President Tsai, speaking on behalf of the people and government of Taiwan, once again thanked President Morales and the Guatemalan government for their hospitality, which made the delegation members feel warmth and friendship while in this "land of eternal springtime."

Following the conclusion of President Tsai's remarks, the two heads of state each fielded questions from journalists of the two countries about matters pertaining to bilateral relations and cooperation projects.

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