San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Top Diplomat Bullish On State of Relations

Costa Rica this year has stayed the course in broadening its diplomacy, according to the country’s top diplomat.

Inside the lavish Foreign Ministry, reporters sat before coffee and banana leaf-bundled tamales as the slick-haired, straight-talking Bruno Stagno gave his year-end roundup.

Without looking down once at his notes, the foreign minister ran off a list of 14 countries with which the ministry has established fresh diplomatic ties under his – and President Oscar Arias’ – watch “in record time for Costa Rica.”

The countries were mainly African – among them, Egypt, Congo, Uganda, Swaziland – as well as Middle Eastern nations Kuwait, Jordan and Yemen.

But journalists wanted to know more about one state farther east: China.

Almost six months on from Costa Rica’s rapprochement with China – at the expense of severing its Taiwanese ties – big plans are already in the works, or on the table. They include China’s bid to help expand and enhance a petroleum refinery in the Caribbean province of Limón, and its $20 million pledge to revamp the National Stadium in San José’s La Sabana park and rebuild 40 Costa Rican cantons that were devastated by flooding in October.

“We’re making up for lost time,” said Stagno. “China answers all of our calls.”

Asked if the government planned on rebuilding friendly bridges to Taiwan, Stagno gave a resounding no.

But he pointed to strides made closer to home, namely the government’s efforts to strengthen Costa Rica’s political ties with Nicaragua and Panama, efforts that will continue in the coming year, he said.

A hot item on Stagno’s scorecard was Costa Rica’s re-entry into the U.N. Security Council after its last non-permanent membership expired 10 years ago.


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