Vatican, Vietnam to hold meeting

2010-06-21 19:12

Vatican City - The Vatican said on Monday it would hold its second meeting with officials from Vietnam, a country with which it has tense relations and no official diplomatic ties.

"The meeting aims to deepen and develop bilateral relations," Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi said in a statement, adding that it would be held at the Catholic Church’s headquarters on June 23 and 24.

The first meeting of this kind was held in Hanoi in February 2009.

Although the two countries have no diplomatic ties, they have moved closer after the country's prime minister visited Rome in 2007.

In May, the Vatican accepted the resignation of Hanoi's ailing archbishop, Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, known as a fierce opponent of Vietnam's communist regime, after he left for the US for medical treatment.

The Vietnamese government, heading a rapidly industrialising economy, is said to have repeatedly pressed the Vatican to remove the prelate, who has spearheaded protests over seizures of Church real estate by the communist authorities.

Since 2007, Roman Catholics have sought the return of Church property seized more than 50 years ago when communists took power in what was then North Vietnam.

State media have accused Kiet of sapping national unity by encouraging demonstrations.