updated 5/12/2005 5:57:07 AM ET 2005-05-12T09:57:07

Pope Benedict XVI reached out on Thursday to countries that don’t have diplomatic relations with the Vatican, inviting them to establish ties with the Holy See.

Benedict didn’t name specific countries, saying only that he appreciated messages that came from some of them following the death of Pope John Paul II. China, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam are among the countries that don’t have relations with the Vatican.

Benedict made the comments in a speech to diplomats accredited to the Holy See, his first since being elected pope on April 19. He delivered his speech in French — the language of diplomacy — to representatives of the 174 countries with which the Vatican has relations in a ceremony inside the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace.

“I’m thinking also about the nations with which the Holy See still hasn’t entered into diplomatic relations,” Benedict told the ambassadors, many in formal dress with sashes and medals on their chests.

He said he appreciated the fact that some of these countries sent messages to the Vatican following the death of John Paul and after his election.

“I want to express my gratitude and address a deferential greeting to the civil authorities of these countries, expressing the wish to see them soon represented at the Apostolic See,” he said.

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