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Guatemala president says expects Taiwan to deepen regional ties

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemala said on Wednesday it expected Taiwan to deepen economic ties with the region, as President Tsai Ing-wen is visiting Central America at a time when China suspects she is seeking formal independence from the mainland.

Tsai landed in Honduras and Nicaragua this week on a trip that will also take in El Salvador. She met with U.S. Republican lawmakers in a Houston stopover last weekend, angering China.

"I'm sure that her administration will strengthen economic ties and cooperation in the region," Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said at a news conference with Tsai.

Beijing was furious when U.S. President-elect Donald Trump broke years of diplomatic tradition by accepting a congratulatory telephone call from Tsai on his surprise election win. Beijing regards the one-China policy as the basis of its relations with the United States.

Tsai said at the news conference that Taiwan was ready and able to contribute to the world, needs a more active role, and thanked Guatemala for its support.

On Tuesday, Nicaragua said it wanted to secure bigger international recognition for Taiwan.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Richard Chang)