President Tsai Ing-wen met with Guatemalan Minister of Defense Major General Luis Miguel Ralda Moreno on the morning of March 15. She thanked him for Guatemala's long-standing support for Taiwan at international venues and said that she hopes for more interaction and exchanges to establish a closer bilateral partnership.
In remarks, President Tsai welcomed Minister Ralda back to Taiwan and said she was very happy to meet with him once again. She noted that he came to Taiwan two years ago to attend an international training course organized by Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense for senior military officers from allies in Latin America and the Caribbean, and since assuming his current post as defense minister, he has made many contributions to Taiwan-Guatemala military cooperation. His current visit shows the importance that Guatemala places upon its diplomatic relations with Taiwan, she said.
The president pointed out that Taiwan and Guatemala have maintained close diplomatic ties for over 80 years, providing mutual support. The two countries offered assistance to each other last year on numerous occasions, including after an earthquake struck Hualien County in Taiwan and a volcanic eruption in Guatemala.
The president mentioned that Minister Ralda was in charge of recovery efforts after the volcanic eruption in Guatemala last year, and received high praise for his performance. President Tsai took the opportunity to extend sympathies to victims of the disaster on behalf of the Taiwanese people.
The president also mentioned that relations between Taiwan and Guatemala have continued to improve precisely because of good friends like Minister Ralda who share their experiences interacting with Taiwan with fellow citizens in Guatemala, offering praise and support.
Commenting on reciprocal visits between Taiwan and Guatemala, the president emphasized that in recent years, in addition to her own visit to Guatemala and a second meeting with Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales last year during a visit to Paraguay, officials from the two countries also make frequent reciprocal visits. Just as military personnel from Guatemala take part in military and diplomatic training activities in Taiwan, and vice versa, President Tsai expressed hope that our countries can engage in more exchanges to establish a closer bilateral partnership.
The president also took the opportunity to thank Guatemala for its staunch support for Taiwan. At a meeting of the World Health Organization Executive Board over a month ago, she said, Guatemala again spoke up for Taiwan, praising Taiwan for our contributions to international medicine and public health, and disease prevention, and calling on the international community to be aware of Taiwan's improper exclusion from the WHO system.
And finally, the president asked Minister Ralda to convey greetings and thanks from Taiwan to President Morales, and expressed confidence that this visit would give him a deeper understanding of Taiwan, and that she hopes for more bilateral interaction and exchanges.
Also present at the meeting was Guatemalan Ambassador to the ROC Olga María Aguja Zúñiga.