FILE - A pilgrim waves a Chinese flag during Pope Francis weekly general audience in St. Peter square at the Vatican, Nov. 22, 2017.
FILE - A pilgrim waves a Chinese flag during Pope Francis weekly general audience in St. Peter square at the Vatican, Nov. 22, 2017.

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican is greeting the visit to Italy of Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week with a new round of overtures and says the “door is always open” to dialogue.

Italian media have been speculating for days about the possibility of a meeting between Xi and Pope Francis during Xi's March 21-24 visit. But there has been no word from either side.

China and the Holy See haven't had diplomatic relations for over half a century.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, when asked Tuesday about Xi's visit, said “Our door is always open.”

The Vatican has been working to build on relations stemming from the historic 2018 provisional agreement reached between Beijing and the Holy See over bishop nominations.