Saturday, April 08, 2006

No luck with the Chinese...yet...


Taipei, April 4 (CNA) The Vatican and China did not engage in any official talks on establishing diplomatic relations during their latest contact, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said Tuesday.

According to Wang Yu-yuan, director-general of the MOFA's Department of European Affairs, high-ranking Vatican officials have promised to inform Taiwan if the Holy See starts talks on establishing diplomatic ties with Beijing.

The Vatican -- the only European country to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan -- has been trying to improve its relations with China and has maintained on-and-off contact with Beijing, Wang noted.

Wang said freedom of religion has been the main problem hampering the establishment of Vatican-China diplomatic relations because the Vatican is concerned about the rights of Catholics in China, which does not recognize the authority of bishops and other officials appointed by the Catholic church.

Wang said that since 1992, the Vatican has mentioned plans to "move its embassy" from Taipei to Beijing and that China has put forth several conditions on the establishment of diplomatic ties with the Vatican, including that it must not interfere with China's internal affairs and must sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

The matter is at a standstill because the Vatican has refused to compromise on some of these conditions, Wang said.

On reports that the pope is planning to visit Asia, Wang said he had not heard of any such plans.

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