Alexa

President's visit to Vatican 'successful': foreign minister

President's visit to Vatican 'successful': foreign minister

Taipei, March 20 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou's visit to the Vatican to attend the installation Mass for Pope Francis was "successful" and delivered "significant results," Foreign Minister David Lin said Wednesday. It was an important visit, during which Ma extended felicitations to the new pope in person to demonstrate the close relations between the Republic of China and the Holy See, Lin told local media. During the inaugural Mass a day earlier, Ma also had the opportunity to engage with political leaders from other countries, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, he added. Asked about China's recent demand that the Holy See cut its diplomatic ties with Taiwan and instead establish formal diplomatic relations with China, Lin said the remarks were just a repeat of Beijing's existing stance and did not carry any special meanings. China often tries to suppress Taiwan's international presence, as it considers Taiwan to be part of its territory. However, the hostility between the two sides has decreased significantly since Ma took office in 2008. Taiwan hopes to improve ties with China, Lin said, adding that "we also hope our relations with the Holy See will be more solid and that bilateral ties will be advanced." He also stressed that ROC-Holy See ties remain close, which is evidenced by Ma's visit to the Vatican. Ma, the first ROC president to meet with a pope, was set to return to Taiwan later in the day. The Holy See is the ROC's only diplomatic ally in Europe. The two sides have maintained diplomatic ties for 71 years. (By Elaine Hou)