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Honduras will 'soon' launch trade talks with China as ties deepen

Honduras Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina meets Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Beijing

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras will soon begin talks toward a trade deal with China, the Central American country's top diplomat said on Friday, marking the latest step toward stronger bilateral ties between the two nations after Honduras broke off relations with Taiwan.

Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina told reporters at a press conference that the goal is to launch talks "soon" and eventually ink a "free trade" agreement with the Asian giant, the world's second-largest economy.

"It will be good news and (offer) opportunities for access to our products to China," said Reina.

In late March, Honduras ended its decades-long diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, after President Xiomara Castro opted to open relations with China in a bid for more investment and jobs.

Coffee will be the first Honduran export to the massive Chinese market, Reina noted, adding that both countries are also evaluating future shipments of shrimp and melon to China.

Honduras is one of Central America's top coffee growers.

Reina said that China has also expressed interest in buying Honduran beef and bananas, among other products.

In April, the diplomat said Honduras also hopes to reach agreements with China to lighten the nation's debt burden with the support of financial organizations from its new partner.

(Reporting by Orfa Mejia; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Anthony Esposito)