Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) Visiting Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez pledged Thursday that the friendship between his country and the Republic of China (Taiwan) will never change as Paraguay will forever remain Taiwan's loyal ally in South America.On the question of his country's diplomatic loyalty to Taiwan amid a rash of defections by allies in Latin America and the Caribbean to China, President Abdo said his country has business relations with every country in the world but that was no reason to abandon its allies."We won't sacrifice our ties with any of our allies or good friends (over business relations with another country)," Abdo said. "We firmly believe no country in the world can restrict our sovereign decision to make friends with another country."Paraguay has had diplomatic relations with Taiwan since 1957 and is its only ally in South America among the 17 worldwide.Since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016, Taiwan has lost five diplomatic allies, three of which are in the Central American and Caribbean region, namely Panama, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic.Abdo arrived in Taiwan on Sunday at the invitation of Tsai to attend Wednesday's National Day celebrations and was scheduled to leave late Thursday.In an address at an honor guard ceremony in Taipei on Monday, Abdo said the trip was like a "homecoming" because his family had close ties to Taiwan.His father Mario Abdo Benitez Sr. served as private secretary to former Paraguayan President Alfredo Stroessner, and helped forge the diplomatic relations with Taiwan 61 years ago.
Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez / Photo courtesy of CNA