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Vatican Says Time is Ripe for Relations with China

The Vatican's foreign minister says "the time is ripe" to work out differences with China and establish diplomatic relations.

Archbishop Giovanni LaJolo made the comment Saturday in a lengthy interview shown on a Hong Kong cable television station (I-Cable). He said the Vatican is ready to move its embassy from Taiwan back to Beijing.

LaJolo said it is clear the spiritual needs of several million Roman Catholics in China are more urgent than those of the 300,000 Catholics in Taiwan. He said now is the time for open and trusting relations between the Holy See and the communist government in Beijing.

The two sides have begun talks aimed at repairing their strained relations. Diplomatic ties were cut 55 years ago, shortly after the Communist Party came to power in China.

Beijing rejects the authority of the Vatican and allows Catholics to worship only in state-approved churches. But millions of other Chinese belong to underground Catholic congregations loyal to Rome.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.