Contributed by: Don WinnerTaipei (dpa) - Taiwan's Foreign Minister James Huang is holding talks in Panama on cooperation including joining in the expansion of the Panama Canal, the Foreign Ministry said Friday. Panama has been mulling expanding the Panama Canal to take bigger cargo ships, and Taiwan is eager to join in the expansion in order to consolidate diplomatic ties, as Panama is one of the 24 countries which recognize Taiwan, and because Taiwan, home of the Evergreen and Yangming shipping companies, is the 12th-largest user of the canal. Half of Taiwan's allies are in Latin America and the Caribbean, and safeguarding ties with these countries became more urgent after Costa Rica cut ties with Taipei to recognize Beijing in June. In July, Vice President Anette Lu visited the Dominican Republic, Paraguay and Guatemala with a refuelling stop in Panama. The official purpose of her trip was to attend celebrations marking five decades of Taiwanese-Paraguayan friendship, but Taiwan press reports claimed it was a damage-control trip to prevent Taiwan's remaining Latin American allies from dumping Taiwan after Costa Rica had changed side.