Wed, May 18, 2005 - Page 4 News List

MOFA watching Vatican's moves

CNA AND AP , TAIPEI AND BEIJING

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is closely monitoring developments on the possible formation of diplomatic ties between the Vatican and China, a ministry official said yesterday.

Shieh Chun-teh (謝俊得), deputy director of the ministry's European Affairs Department, made the comment after the International Herald Tribune reported that the Holy See is actively seeking dialogue with China on establishing formal diplomatic relations.

Shieh claimed that such reports are "cliches," but stressed that the ministry will continue keeping a close eye on possible changes.

The Vatican is fully aware of the differences between a democratic country and an authoritarian regime and it shares the same belief with Taiwan regarding religious freedom, he said.

According to the report, the late Pope John Paul II, who died last month, received a semiofficial delegation from China last year, while Pope Benedict XVI said last week that the Vatican is thinking of countries that have no diplomatic links with the Holy See.

The Vatican is the only state in Europe that maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Meanwhile, China said yesterday that it is sincere in its desire to form relations with the Vatican but insisted that it treat Taiwan as part of China.

``We are sincere about establishing ties with the Vatican,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said in Beijing.

``The Vatican must follow the decision of the international community to treat Taiwan as an inseparable part of China,'' Kong said at a regular news briefing.

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