Taipei, June 8 (CNA) King Mswati III of eSwatini said Friday in Taipei that his country will always be a friend of Taiwan "in good times and in bad times" whatever the challenges ahead, and he vowed to pass that friendship on to future generations.
"Coming to our home, our second home, I also want to make my commitment that whatever challenges we face, we will always be together. We are friends. In good times and in bad times, we will always be friends," King Mswati III said.
The king made the pledge at the signing ceremony of an agreement on economic cooperation between Taiwan and eSwatini at Taiwan's Presidential Office.
President Tsai Ing-wen and King Mswati III witnessed the signing of the deal after Tsai hosted a military salute ceremony Friday morning in the plaza in front of the Presidential Office to welcome the leader of the African country.
The agreement covers a wide range of areas, including tariff cuts on 153 products from eSwatini.
It also promotes Taiwanese investment in eSwatini, establishes cooperative mechanisms in the agriculture, energy, medicine, information and communications, and technology sectors, and provides for the training of personnel, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
The Kingdom is in the process of becoming a First World nation, and "the agreement is critical to facilitate the vision of attaining the status by 2022," King Mswati III said.
The king and his delegation arrived in Taiwan on June 6 for a week-long visit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries.
The southern African country, previously known as Swaziland, is Taiwan's last diplomatic ally in Africa after Burkina Faso switched recognition to China on May 24.
China's foreign ministry said on June 1 that it hoped eSwatini would break ties with Taiwan before early September when Beijing hosts a summit of African leaders, but that seems unlikely to happen.
In his speech Friday, King Mswati III reassured Tsai that he will continue to work with Tsai to strengthen the friendship between the two countries.
"Our bilateral relationship is anchored on a very strong foundation that was established by our predecessors," he said at the salute ceremony.
"Our two peoples are looking to us to strengthen this friendship so that we can also leave a good legacy for our future generations."
Tsai thanked the king for his country's staunch support for Taiwan's international participation, saying that eSwatini always "stands by our side."
Tsai said that although Taiwan faces obstacles to participating in the international community, it has never considered isolationism as a policy approach.
"We will never engage in dollar diplomacy, but we will never give up chances to build ties with international community," she said.
Taiwan is ready, willing, and able to make greater contributions to international society, either on its own or through cooperation with other countries or international organizations, Tsai said.
She noted that Taiwan is a country with a powerful neighbor and often faces challenges in dealing with natural disasters.
"But those challenges will never get the best of us. The more setbacks we face, the more courage we have. Courage often comes from the support of our friends," she said.