Honduran president headed to China in first trip after ties established

Honduras President Xiomara Castro attends the anniversary of the Honduran Air Force, in Tegucigalpa

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduran President Xiomara Castro is set to travel this week to China, her foreign minister said on Monday, the leftist leader's first visit to the Asian giant after establishing formal diplomatic relations with it in March.

Castro's trip marks the latest step in the two nations' new relationship, after her government ditched ties with Taiwan in favor of Beijing.

Foreign Minister Enrique Reina told reporters at an event inaugurating China's embassy in Tegucigalpa that Castro will travel on Tuesday this week.

Later on Monday, Castro's press office tweeted that the official visit would take place from this coming Friday to Wednesday of next week.

Castro's trip to the world's second-biggest economy stemmed from an invitation from her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Honduran state media outlet Poder Popular wrote in story published earlier on Monday.

Honduras and China launched diplomatic relations after Castro cut ties with Taiwan in a bid for more investment and jobs from the much larger Chinese economy.

Last month, Reina announced that both sides will "soon" begin trade talks, with coffee set to be the first Honduran export to the massive Chinese consumer market.

The minister added on Monday that several "cooperation agreements" would be signed, but did not specify further.

Castro's government is also seeking deals with China to lighten the nation's debt burden.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Nick Zieminski)