Talks between the Vietnamese government and the Vatican, aimed at restoring diplomatic relations, have ended with an agreement to meet again in the near future. Although no significant achievements were made and no date set for a return leg, the meetings earlier this week "established a basis for further progress" according to Msgr. Pietro Parolin, who led the Vatican delegation. Msgr. Parolin told reporters last night that the talks had focussed on the basic principles for fruitful dialogue but admitted that it was impossible to forecast how long the process would take. Diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Communist Vietname were suspended in 1959. Tentative moves towards exploratory talks to re-establilsh diplomatic ties have been ongoing since 2007 when Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. The talks took place against a backdrop of rising Church-State tensions over property rights and religious freedom. Vietname has South East Asia's largest Catholic community after the Phillipines, with six million faithful.
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