Honduras open to diplomatic ties with China: Minister

TEGUCIGALPA (AFP) - Honduras is "open" to diplomatic relations with China, despite decades of ties to Beijing's bitter rival Taiwan, Foreign Minister Mireya Aguero said.

"The possibility remains open" of forging ties with Beijing, Honduras' top diplomat said on Thursday.

"In the case of the People's Republic of China, it is a member of the UN Security Council, and a country of indisputable world importance, from an economic, political and investment perspective," she said.

Ms Aguero added that opening ties to Beijing would allow Honduras to better achieve its "objectives in international relations," saying that her country must remain open to ties "with any member of the United Nations."

Despite a lack of diplomatic relations, Honduras has maintained trade ties to Beijing, which in recent years has become a major economic player throughout Latin America.

President Porfirio Lobo is said to be interested in deepening those relations.

China "is an enormous market that has not been accessible to Honduras," the president told reporters at a press conference.

Honduras is one of about 30 nations which maintains relations with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan after their defeat in the mainland's 1949 civil war and has evolved into a prosperous democracy. It lost its seat in the United Nations in 1971 when the General Assembly admitted Beijing.

China - which considers Taiwan a Chinese province awaiting reunification - has adamantly opposed any international role or recognition that implies that the island is a separate country.

Costa Rica so far is the only country in Central America to break ties to Taiwan and forge diplomatic relations with Beijing.