Top Asian News 3:57 a.m. GMT

Pope arrives on first visit to Mongolia as Vatican relations with Russia and China remain strained

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (AP) — Pope Francis arrived in Mongolia on Friday morning on a visit to encourage one of the world’s smallest and newest Catholic communities. It's the first time a pope has visited the landlocked Asian country and comes at a time when the Vatican’s relations with Mongolia’s two powerful neighbors, Russia and China, are once again strained. Francis arrived in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar after an overnight flight passing through Chinese airspace, affording the pontiff a rare opportunity to send a note of greetings to President Xi Jinping. Vatican protocol calls for the pope to send such greetings whenever he flies over a foreign country.