Paraguay's President Santiago Pena
Paraguay's President Santiago Pena AFP

Paraguay's President Santiago Pena will attend the inauguration of Taiwan's new leader, a high-ranking government official said Thursday, making him the first head of state to confirm his presence at the ceremony.

Pena is on an official trip to Washington this week, and will leave for Taipei on Saturday, the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

Lai Ching-te will be sworn-in as Taiwan's new president on Monday, against a backdrop of increasing pressure from neighboring China, which claims the island as part of its territory.

Beijing has said it will not rule out using force to bring the island under Chinese control.

Several countries, including the United States and Canada, are sending delegations to the inauguration.

Paraguay is the only South American country that maintains diplomatic ties with Taiwan and not with China.

It is one of only 13 countries in the world to do so.

Pena, who took office in August, this week reiterated his support for the foreign policy of the United States, Israel and Taiwan.