Senior churchmen and Vietnamese officials meeting at the Vatican agreed positive developments had taken place in bilateral relations in recent months, particularly December's talks between Benedict and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.

"In order to deepen the relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, as well as the bonds between the Holy See and the local Catholic Church, it was agreed that, as a first step, a non-resident Representative of the Holy See for Vietnam will be appointed by the Pope," the Vatican said in statement.

Vietnam has Asia's second-largest Catholic population and has been holding talks with the Vatican for years on forging diplomatic ties.

The Vatican's relations with Hanoi have suffered because the Church is associated with Vietnam's colonial past under French rule, but officials say many problems have been resolved, and agreement has been reached on the appointment of bishops.

Reuters - June 29, 2010