BEIRUT

Middle East

Vatican establishes diplomatic relations with UAE

VATICAN CITY: The Holy See and the United Arab Emirates established diplomatic relations on Thursday, the Vatican said, praising the level of religious freedom in the predominantly Muslim country. The UAE and the Vatican are "desirous of promoting bonds of mutual friendship and of strengthening international cooperation," the Vatican said in a statement. Although the state religion of the UAE is Islam, non-Muslims are guaranteed religious freedom under the country's Constitution and Christians are free to worship, it said. The Vatican already has diplomatic relations with other countries with Muslim majorities such as Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. Pope Benedict XVI provoked anger among Muslims in September when he appeared to link Islam with violence. He has since moved to ease tensions, notably making a historic visit to Istanbul's Blue Mosque in December. - AFP

 

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