Pope to Meet Communist Leader

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See confirmed that Benedict XVI will receive Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam in a Jan. 25 audience.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, confirmed the news verbally to journalists, which was announced shortly before by a communiqué from Hanoi's Foreign Ministry.

The Holy See and Vietnam do not maintain diplomatic relations. Both the Pope and Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone have publicly expressed the desire that the Holy See establish relations with those countries that do not yet have an ambassador to the Vatican.

The Catholic community of Vietnam is, after the Philippines, the second most numerous of Southeast Asia, with some 6 million faithful, 7% of the population.