The President of Vietnam, Tran Dai Quang, has made his first visit to the Vatican. The pope changed his work schedule in order to meet with him in the afternoon and he greeted him in French.
Pope Francis and the president met behind closed doors for about 15 minutes.
Along with the president, the ten top officials also came to Rome, including the General Secretary of the Communist Party and vice-ministers of foreign and domestic affairs.
As an official gift, the president delivered a miniature, old Vietnamese drum with a bronze base to the pope.
The pope gave him a medallion with this message: "The desert will become a garden." He also gifted him his three major documents: one on the program of his pontificate, one on the family and the last on ecology.
The most expressive moment, however, was the cordial farewell:
"Thank you very much for your visit. I see that we agree on our projects and our work."
TRAN DAI QUANG
"I thank your Excellency for this meeting."
According to official Vatican communication, they underlined the "good relations, supported by the common spirit of dialogue and constant search for the most useful tools for their improvement." They also spoke about "collaboration between Church and state in various spheres of local society."
Vietnam has 89 million inhabitants; of these, 6.5 percent are Catholics. Although the country does not maintain diplomatic relations with the Holy See, they have accepted that the Vatican has a "non-residential special envoy of the Holy See" to keep the channel of dialogue open.