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El Salvador's Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez speaks with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen during an event in San Salvador, El Salvador January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas


SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador said on Thursday it will strengthen ties with Taiwan as President Tsai Ing-wen visits Central America at a time when China suspects she is seeking formal independence from the mainland.

Tsai is making her last stop in the region on a trip that has taken her to Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, after meeting U.S. Republican lawmakers in a Houston stopover last weekend that angering China.

Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez told reporters that El Salvador's President Salvador Sanchez Ceren would hold a "special working meeting" with Tsai on Friday and they were expected to make announcements to strengthen bilateral relations.

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

Tsai said on her arrival that El Salvador was an important friend to Taiwan.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Paul Tait)