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Taiwan    PRESIDENT HOPES POPE CAN VISIT
President Chen Shui-bian has said a visit by Pope John Paul to Taiwan is the greatest hope of Catholics and all people on the island.
    Chen, in a meeting with Taiwan Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi, said he looked forward to an audience with the Pope to hear his views on religion, human rights and Taiwan-China ties, according to a Presidential Office statement obtained on Friday.
    The Vatican is one of only two European states recognising Taiwan's exiled Republic of China rather than its Communist rival, the People's Republic of China in Beijing. The other is Macedonia.
    Beijing insists the Holy See must sever ties with Taipei before any normalisation of relations can take place. Signs have emerged recently of stepped-up contacts between the Vatican and communist-ruled China - a country the Pope has said he has dreamt of visiting but cannot until diplomatic relations are forged.
    Taiwan's new Foreign Minister Tien Hung-mao visited the Holy See in June and met top Vatican officials.
   
Reuters
   
17 July 00



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