TAIWAN PRESIDENT LEE PLACES SASH OVER HEAD OF VISITING ARCHBISHOP CORDES IN TAIPEI.
Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui (R) places a sash over the head of visiting Roman Catholic Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, who oversees the Vatican's Cor Unum charity agency in Taipei January 17. Cordes offered to help Taiwan with its international aid programmes, including a US$300 million initiative to assist refugees displaced by the Kosovo war. During his six-day visit, Cordes also has reassured Taipei that Taiwan-Vatican diplomatic ties were solid. Taiwan had been shaken in recent months by media reports that the Vatican was in talks with the island's arch rival - communist China - about possibly establishing formal ties, a move that, under Beijing's diplomatic embargo of Taiwan, would oblige the Holy See to sever ties with Taipei. Taiwan's Republic of China government, which has refused to accept Beijing's claims of sovereignty since a 1949 civil war split, counts the Vatican as one of only two diplomatic allies in Europe. The other is Macedonia.