Vietnam's deputy prime minister meets top Vatican officials

Posted: Friday, December 06, 2002

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Vietnam's deputy prime minister held talks with top Vatican officials aimed at improving relations, the Holy See announced.

The Vatican and Vietnam lack diplomatic relations, and Vatican officials have visited Vietnam for several years seeking to ease tensions.

Like its fellow communist regime in China, Vietnam insists on having the final say over religious appointments, yet last week Pope John Paul II appointed two Vietnamese bishops.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan met Cardinal Angelo Sodano and Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Holy See's secretary of state and its foreign minister.

Vietnam's 8 million Roman Catholics constitute a small percentage of the nation's 76 million people but form Asia's second largest Catholic community, after the Philippines.

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