.- Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian told a top Vatican official Friday that he hopes ties with the Holy See would continue despite speculation that the Vatican is ready to sever existing ties with Taipei to rebuild relations with Beijing, reported Agence France-Presse.
"Taiwan and the Vatican have the same beliefs in democracy, human rights, freedom and peace. I hope the relations of the two partners who share the same values will last forever," Chen reportedly told visiting Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. The head of the Vatican Library received a medal from Chen as he wrapped up a six-day visit to the island-country.
The Vatican has been seeking for some time to normalize relations with China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province.
Taiwan expressed confidence earlier this year that Pope Benedict XVI would not "sacrifice" the Vatican's principles and cut ties with Taiwan due to Beijingâs persistent urging.
In the past, the Vatican's two main conditions for opening of formal ties with China had been the free appointment of bishops on the mainland and freedom for Chinese Catholics to maintain religious links to Rome without government control.