Honduran President Xiomara Castro arrives at Las Americas Airport in Ciudad Trujillo, the Dominican Republic, on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

/ Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan did much to help Honduran President Xiomara Castro and her family during a coup in 2009, former Taiwanese ambassador to Honduras Lai Chien-chung (贾建中) said yesterday in response to allegations that Taipei's indifference at the time helped push the country. toward Beijing

Lai, who served as ambassador from 2006 to 2011, said that Taiwan was among very few countries that reached out to Castro, who was then first lady, when then-Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was ousted and sent into exile.

“We extended our utmost goodwill and efforts,” Lai said, adding that related correspondence can be found at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Lai's remarks came after former legislator Tsai Cheng-yuan (蔡正元) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Thursday said on Facebook that Taiwan refused to shelter Castro during the crisis and only helped her pregnant daughter.

Lai said that the coup took him by surprise, and he provided shelter to Castro's husband and two daughters at his residence before the situation settled down.

Lai sheltered Castro at the US embassy separately to spread the risk, he said.

Castro often dined at Lai's residence, he said, adding that relations with her were “very good.”

They remained friendly until Lai was dispatched to Italy in 2011, he said.

Castro drove hours to bid him farewell in person, putting him on the phone with Zelaya so he could thank Lai and Taiwan's government for its support, Lai said.

Lai described the family's stay at his house as an “act of trust.”

Castro's daughter, Xiomara Zelaya, was a member of the diplomatic delegation Honduras dispatched to Beijing on Thursday to discuss the establishment of ties.

Castro on Tuesday last week wrote on Twitter that her country was considering diplomatic relations with China, but Honduras has not officially established ties with Beijing or severed them with Taipei.

Taiwan has yet to receive official communication from Honduras ending diplomatic relations, and is continuing efforts to salvage ties with the country, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

News source: TAIPEI TIMES