Ecumenism

(AFP) Russia and the Vatican have agreed to establish full diplomatic relations, ending long-standing tensions, the Kremlin announced Thursday after President Dmitry Medvedev met Pope Benedict XVI.

“President Medvedev told Pope Benedict XVI that he had signed a decree concerning the establishment of full diplomatic relations with the Vatican,” Russian presidential spokeswoman Natalia Timakova said.

“He asked the foreign ministry to lead discussions to establish the relations and raise the level of representation to apostolic nuncio and embassy,” she added.

Since 1990, the two sides have maintained representation below the rank of ambassador.

The Vatican confirmed in its own statement: “It was decided to establish full diplomatic relations.” It welcomed the “cordial ties” between the two.

“Moscow’s movements are closely linked to the level of relations between the Vatican and the Orthodox Church,” Vatican watcher Marco Tosatti told AFP.

“The Russian government cannot offend the patriach in Moscow, they cannot do anything that could displease him.”

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