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Archbishop Paul Gallagher with a delegation of the Communist Party of Vietnam on January 18 (Vatican Media)

The Vatican’s top envoy has arrived on a six-day visit to Vietnam, aimed at further fostering full diplomatic ties with the communist country. Source: UCA News.

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for relations with states and international organisations, was welcomed by Archbishop Marek Zalewski, resident pontifical representative to Vietnam, at Noi Bai International Airport on Tuesday.

Archbishop Gallagher met his Vietnamese counterpart, Bui Thanh Son, upon arrival and affirmed that the Vatican and Vietnam have a good relationship.

He said he hoped that “the bilateral relationship would continue to achieve important milestones” in the future, Vietnam News reported.

Mr Son agreed and said that the Vatican envoy’s visit would further strengthen ties between both sides.

Mr Son proposed continuing high-level exchange activities and stated that the government would create conditions for Archbishop Zalewski to fulfill his mission in the country.

He appreciated the positive progress of their relations in recent years, especially the agreement on the working regulations of the pontifical resident representative and his office in Vietnam.

The deal was signed in July 2023, during former president Vo Van Thuong’s visit to the Holy See.

Mr Thuong also extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit his country.

Archbishop Gallagher is the most senior official to visit the Southeast Asian country since diplomatic relations were broken off in 1975, when the northern communist forces took control of US-backed South Vietnam and expelled the apostolic delegate from the former capital, Saigon.

Relations have improved since both sides started regular talks in the late 1990s.

Last December, the Vatican appointed Archbishop Zalewski as its first pontifical resident representative to Vietnam, while other communist nations in Asia — China, Laos and North Korea — have no relations with the Vatican.

Vietnam is home to about seven million Catholics out of a total population of 100 million, making it one of the largest communities in Asia.


Vatican top diplomat arrives in Vietnam to cement ties (UCA News)