Saturday 24 March 2018

Aung San Suu Kyi meets Pope Francis as Vatican establishes Burma link

Aung San Suu Kyi, left, with Pope Francis, right, at the Vatican (Tony Gentile/Pool Photo via AP)
Aung San Suu Kyi, left, with Pope Francis, right, at the Vatican (Tony Gentile/Pool Photo via AP)

The Vatican and Burma have agreed to establish diplomatic relations as Aung San Suu Kyi met Pope Francis.

The announcement came as the Nobel Peace Prize winner, also the country's top civilian leader, visited the Vatican.

Burma's government is facing international criticism for its activities in the western state of Rakhine.

Troops are accused of widespread abuses against the Muslim ethnic Rohingya minority in what the government says is a counter-insurgency operation.

Francis has appealed for prayers for the Rohingya, who face official and social discrimination in the Buddhist-majority country.

In February, he denounced the way they had been "tortured and killed, simply because they are continuing their traditions, their Muslim faith".

The Vatican said the decision to establish diplomatic relations would "promote bonds of mutual friendship".

Elsewhere, Pope Francis has moved a Vietnamese cardinal imprisoned for more than 13 years by the communists a step closer to sainthood.

On Thursday he signed a decree saying Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan lived a life of heroic virtue.

It is the first major hurdle before he can be beatified.

Mr Thuan's account of being imprisoned by Vietnam's communist leaders made him an inspirational figure to many Vietnamese Catholics.

He died in 2002 of cancer in Rome, where he had been forced to live in exile for the final years of his life.

Thuan was detained for more than 13 years, nine of them in solitary confinement, starting in 1975.

The Vatican must certify a miracle attributed to his intercession for him to be beatified, the first step toward canonisation.


Press Association

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