GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) -Guatemala on Wednesday said it reaffirmed its ties with Taiwan, days after its foreign minister told Reuters the government would seek official trade ties with China while maintaining relations with Taiwan, which China claims as a province.

The ministry said in a statement that Guatemala continues to recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, hours after opposition party Todos said it was seeking to question Foreign Minister Carlos Ramiro Martinez in congress for him to clarify the government’s plans regarding China.

“We are going to continue working with Taiwan at the levels we have been doing,” Martinez said in the interview on Monday, while adding “the president has pointed out that we cannot ignore the weight and power China represents.”

Martinez said Guatemala is interested in developing trade relations with China which could result in the creation of an office of trade interests.

China has in recent years increased its economic influence in Latin America, with many Central American countries such as Honduras and Panama switching loyalties from Taiwan to China.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu and Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Sarah Morland)

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