Vietnam president meets Pope in Vatican towards a warm tie


Pope Francis hosted Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang at the Vatican as the two work towards warming long-strained ties, a press release from the Holy See said.
The two men "discussed the good relations which exist between the Holy See and Vietnam, reinforced by a common spirit of dialogue" over the course of a 15-minute meeting Wednesday, the statement said.
The pope and president spent 15 minutes speaking privately before the president introduced his entourage and exchanged gifts with the pope. The president gave Pope Francis a small bronze drum and the pope gave the president a medallion.
The Vatican said the two spoke of "the good relations existing between the Holy See and Vietnam, (which are) supported by a common spirit of dialogue and a constant search for the most appropriate instruments so they can make further progress."
The Vatican also said the pope and president highlighted "the collaboration between the church and state in various spheres of society."
Vietnam's communist regime broke off diplomatic ties with the Vatican in 1975, but both sides have been working towards reconciliation since 2007, including a meeting between the prime minister and the pope two years ago.
The papal nuncio in Singapore, Leopoldo Girelli, has been the Vatican's "non-resident pontifical representative" to Hanoi since 2011.
The vast majority of Vietnam's 93 million inhabitants say they follow Buddhist traditions, but about seven percent of the population say they are Catholic.
Catholic land confiscated since the end of French colonial rule in 1954 remains a contentious issue between the church and state, and has led to demonstrations.
Talks and relations between the Vatican and Vietnam were strengthened further when Pope Benedict met the head of Vietnam's communist party, Nguyen Phu Trong, and top party and government officials in January 2013; it was the first time a pope had met with the general secretary of the nation's Communist Party./.
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