Vatican and China sign draft accord on appointment of bishops

The dome of Saint Peter's Basilica is seen during the Epiphany mass led by Pope Francis at the Vatican January 6, 2017. REUTERS/ Stefano Rellandini

Thomson Reuters

VILNIUS, Lithuania (Reuters) - The Vatican said on Saturday that it and China have signed a historic provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops.

The agreement was signed in Beijing and announced while Pope Francis was visiting Lithuania at the start of a four-day trip to the Baltic countries.

The Vatican said the accord was "not political but pastoral." A Holy See statement did not mention Taiwan, which the Vatican recognizes diplomatically.

In China, the foreign ministry said in a statement that the two sides had signed an agreement to maintain communications and work to improve relations.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by John Stonestreet)

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