Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Taiwan visas not needed for Vatican passport holders

Holders of Holy See diplomatic and official passports as well as regular Vatican passport holders will be granted visa-free entry to Taiwan for short stays, with immediate effect, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced.

The visa-free privilege for Holy See diplomats or officials and Vatican citizens is part of the government’s efforts to cement bilateral relations and promote cultural and academic exchanges, the MOFA said, E Taiwan News reports.

According to the ministry, holders of Holy See diplomatic and official passports can enter Taiwan without visas for visits of up to 90 days, while for regular Vatican passport holders the maximum period of stay without a visa will be 30 days.

The Vatican is the only European state that maintains formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan rather than China.

MOFA officials said the level of engagement between Taiwan and the Vatican has risen in terms of frequency and importance.

A number of Vatican representatives, including Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes and Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, have visited Taiwan this year, the officials said.

Moreover, the Pontifical Council convened the 2009 Spiritual Exercise for the Leaders of the Church’s Charitable Organization in Taipei Sept. 6-11, the officials noted.

“We hope that the new visa-free program will help to further strengthen cultural and academic exchanges between Taiwan and the Vatican,” a MOFA official said.

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