Photo/IllutrationPope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience, in St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican on Oct. 17. (AP Photo)

VATICAN CITY--The Vatican has issued a statement saying that Pope Francis is not making plans to visit Taiwan, after that country's deputy president reiterated an invitation for the pontiff.

While it is routine for world leaders to invite the pope to visit when they meet, it is rare for the Vatican to announce a visit is not being planned.

Thursday's statement came on the same day that South Korean officials said the pope had expressed willingness to visit North Korea, and just weeks after the Vatican announced a breakthrough deal with China. Taiwan fears that improving relations with China could cause the Vatican to break diplomatic ties.

The Vatican is the only European state recognizing Taiwan. It has indicated the China deal has no bearing on its diplomatic ties with Taiwan.