TAIPEI – Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez was received on Monday with full military honors in the Taiwanese capital and held a meeting with his Taiwanese counterpart, Tsai Ing-wen.
Paraguay is Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America and one of only 17 countries in the world that officially recognize Taiwan and not China.
“Paraguay is a trusted ally that remains loyal even in the most difficult circumstances and the visit means a new sign of the degree of friendship, cooperation, solidarity and recognition, and marks the beginning of a new stage in the relationship,” Benitez said in his speech.
He also said that Paraguay “has supported the legitimate right of the Taiwanese people to join the United Nations” and expressed his intention to turn the current relationship into a strategic alliance.
The Taiwanese president, after welcoming Benitez, spoke of expanding the spectrum of bilateral cooperation in areas such as health, science and technology, economics and trade and encouraged Taiwanese businesses to invest in Paraguay.
Benitez, who arrived in Taiwan on Sunday on a state visit, will attend Taiwan’s National Day celebrations on Wednesday and sign a joint statement with Tsai that is expected to outline mutual cooperation for the next five years.
The Paraguayan president is also expected to attend military maneuvers in northern Taiwan on Oct. 9, which would simulate an enemy assault from the sea and air on the Taoyuan coast, diplomatic sources told EFE.
Since Tsai assumed Taiwan’s presidency in 2016, Chinese military activity has increased in the vicinity of Taiwan and the island has launched a military reinforcement program, which includes the manufacture of submarines, ships, manned and unmanned aircraft, and missiles.