The Vatican said on Thursday it would establish diplomatic relations with Burma as Pope Francis held an audience with the country's effective leader, Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The decision to establish diplomatic ties "would promote bonds of friendship" between the two states, the Vatican said in a statement.
Aung San Suu Kyi's visit to Italy and the Vatican came as Burma's government faced international criticism for the army's treatment of the country's minority Rohingya Muslims in the state of Rakhine.
At a media conference in Brussels on Tuesday, Aung San Suu Kyi said the government was investigating and "taking action" over allegations of widespread abuses against the ethnic Rohingya minority by Burmese troops and rejected a planned probe of the alleged crimes by the United Nations’s rights council.
Francis has appealed for prayers for the Rohingya in Buddhist-majority Burma and in February denounced the way they had been "tortured and killed, simply because they are continuing their traditions, their Muslim faith".