Associated Press

July 8, 1997

Vatican Establishes Ties With Angola

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Vatican established diplomatic relations with Angola on Tuesday, signaling its acceptance of changes in the former Marxist-ruled African country.

The announcement was made during a visit to the Vatican by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who had urged Pope John Paul II to establish ties when the pontiff visited Angola in 1992.

The Vatican had been withholding formal recognition, insisting that Angola fully dismantle its official atheist policy, bring back religious holidays, and improve relations with the Roman Catholic Church.

About half Angola's 11.5 million people are Catholic, according to the Vatican, which pledged to work to help heal the ``deep wounds'' caused by more than 20 years of civil war in the former Portugese colony.