VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican and Vietnam have agreed to upgrade their relations, which have been slowly improving since a total break after the communist victory in the Vietnam War nearly half a century ago.
A joint working group agreed at its latest meeting in Hanoi that in the near future relations would be upgraded to the level of residential representatives in both Hanoi and Rome, a Vatican statement said on Friday.
This would be one step short of full diplomatic relations with ambassadors, which have been the stated aim of the talks since they began in 2009.
Vietnam broke relations with the Vatican after the communists took over the reunified country at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. At the time, the authorities viewed the Catholic Church in Vietnam as having been too close historically to the former colonial power, France.
There are about seven million Catholics out of population of about 97 million. Most Vietnamese practice folk religions or Buddhism.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)