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China, El Salvador ties unchanged despite Taiwan visit-El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - China has not signaled a desire to change its relationship with El Salvador, El Salvador's foreign Minister said on Monday, as his country prepares to host Taiwan's president after she held a controversial call with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's visit to El Salvador next month comes after Trump angered Beijing by speaking to Tsai in a break with decades of precedent that cast doubt on his incoming administration's commitment to Beijing's "one China" policy.

"We haven't received any signal from China that there is any interest in changing the level of relationship, but we will pay attention to how things evolve," El Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez said in an interview.

China has called on the United States to prevent Tsai from transiting there on her way to visit three diplomatic allies in Central America.

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Tsai's Jan. 12-13 visit is aimed at strengthening ties between El Salvador and Taiwan, Martinez said, as Tsai seeks to shore up alliances in Central America. She will also visit Guatemala and Nicaragua.

During the visit, Tsai will hold talks with El Salvadoran President and former guerilla commander Salvador Sanchez Ceren before meeting Salvadoran and Taiwanese businessmen to encourage investment.

In 2014, El Salvador and Taiwan signed a five-year, $50 million cooperation agreement.

China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, who it thinks wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing regards as a renegade province to be brought back under its control by force if necessary.

Taiwanese media has reported that Tsai would seek to meet Trump's team during a possible transit stop but the Taiwanese President's Office has declined to comment.

"For the moment, our foreign policy and our relationships remain the same on both sides of the strait of Taiwan," Martinez said, referring to the waterway that separates Taiwan from China.

Tsai will leave Taiwan on Jan. 7 and return on Jan. 15.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Paul Tait)