The president of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, ruled out on Wednesday a cooling of his country's relations with China and stressed that his Government gives equal importance to the ties it maintains with the Asian giant than with the United States.
During a lunch with foreign correspondents, Cortizo wanted to be very emphatic that for his Government relations with China "are very important," he said, that with the United States, a country that "is the first investor and the first user of the channel from Panama".
The Chinese ambassador to Panama, Wei Qiang, said last Tuesday that there are "pressures" by a "great power" for the Central American country to cool its relations with the Asian giant.
"I feel that there are (pressures), but both China and Panama are sovereign, independent countries, we are mature nations, capable of making our own diplomatic decisions," Wei told reporters.
Although the diplomat did not expressly mention that the "pressures" come from the United States, he did say that the recent statements against China of a US adviser during a visit to Panama were "degrading and unfounded."
Cortizo did admit during his first meeting as president with foreign correspondents in Panama that his Government is reviewing "with attention and caution" the project, which he inherited from the previous Administration, of the Free Trade Agreement with China.
The Panamanian ruler considered that this treaty should benefit the two signatory countries.
Panama, a historical ally of the United States, became the second Central American country in June 2017, after Costa Rica (2007), to establish diplomatic relations with China, during the Government of former President Juan Carlos Varela.
Cortizo also explained that his Government wants to regain international prominence as a "bridge, which Panama had historically"
He stressed, however, as a priority relations with its neighbors, Cota Rica and Colombia, with which he said he has already established "excellent relations."
Regarding international relations, the current Government of Panama will always seek to defend its interests for the benefit of its citizens, said Panamanian Foreign Minister Alejandro Ferrer, also present at lunch with foreign correspondents, as well as other senior officials of the Cortizo cabinet.
This meeting of Cortizo and several of his closest collaborators with the representatives of multinational media had the main purpose of knowing each other and establishing the most favorable mechanisms of permanent communication between both parties.
. (tagsToTranslate) president (t) Panama (t) distancing (t) Government (t) China