Al-Rahi Meets Saudi Leaders and Hariri in Riyadh

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Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi held separate talks Tuesday in in Riyadh with Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri as part of a historic visit to the kingdom.

The visit comes amid tensions between the two countries after Hariri's shock resignation.

The patriarch and the king "reviewed fraternal relations between the kingdom and Lebanon and confirmed the importance of the role of different religions and cultures in promoting tolerance, renouncing violence, extremism and terrorism," the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.

Al-Rahi later met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hariri.

Hariri's Future TV said the Rahi-Hariri meeting was "excellent" and that it tackled "the latest local developments."

LBCI television said Hariri did not inform al-Rahi of a date for his return to Lebanon. The TV network however reported that Hariri is expected to return to Lebanon this week or at the beginning of next week.

Hariri stepped down during a televised address on November 4 from Riyadh, where he is rumored to be under de facto house arrest, despite his insistence that he was "free."

Al-Rahi's trip symbolizes a rare inter-religious exchange in the ultra-conservative kingdom, which is home to the holiest sights in Islam.

"Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's... visit stresses the kingdom's approach for peaceful coexistence, closeness and openness for all sections of Arabic people," Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan said on Twitter.

Upon his arrival, the patriarch met with members of the Lebanese community.

"We will maintain a strong friendship between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon," he said.

"This is our history even if we have had stormy relations sometimes. (There) is a history of friendship with this dear kingdom."

Hariri's resignation, which has thrown Lebanon into crisis, came against the backdrop of mounting tensions between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, which back opposing sides in power struggles in hotspots such as Syria and Yemen.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said France was "worried by the situation in Lebanon" and wanted to see the government there "stabilize as quickly as possible."

He is set to visit the Saudi capital on Thursday.

France joined Germany and the European Union on Monday in calling for an end to external interference in Lebanon.

Comments 12
Thumb ___flamethrower___ 4 days

the best FPM patriarch ever!

Thumb chrisrushlau 4 days

He agrees with the Saudi King that democracy is a terrible idea. Article 24 of the Lebanese Constitution reserves half of the Lebanese Parliament for Christian representatives, even though only a quarter of the population is Christian. Shias by themselves are the majority of Lebanese, according to Noam Chomsky. So, two dysfunctional states, Lebanon and KSA, on either said of another, Israel: all failed-states-by-design. Whose design, eh?

Thumb zulfiquar 4 days

The Saudi designed Taef agreement stole from the majority Shias to give the Christians who are only a quarter of the Lebanese population.

Thumb eagledawn 4 days

A picture speaks a thousand words!

"tric.portugal:
the Saudis gonna accepted Hariri to meet with the Lebanese Patriarch !??? my bet in no...the Saudi gonna say that Hariri are in a "(...)in a reflective state,"..."

Thumb s.o.s 4 days

Remind the houthian that betting is 7aram :p

Thumb irena 4 days

If his visit to SA can help ease the tension, then it should be viewed positively regardless of one's political and/or religious affiliations.

Thumb irena 4 days

I wish you were right. I wish young MBS were genuine when signalling Saudis as the champions of all Arabs regardless of their faith.
But for the time being and until proven otherwise (jusqu'à preuve du contraire), I have my doubts.
Wait n see, as they say.

Thumb irena 4 days

It's true that the Patriarch' visit was planned well before Hariri's resignation. It's also true that no catholic cardinal has ever visited Riyad (no diplomatic relations with the Vatican).
So, this is definitely something new. Awesome, I'd dare say.

Lots of European sunni muslims would more than welcome changes in SA and are looking up to MSB to make them. So, let's wish him plenty of luck. He'll need it.

Thumb ex-fpm 4 days

I am a Christian and I do not see the need for churches in Saudi Arabia unless there is a native Christian population which is not the case. A church is not a building but a group of people who believe in the Christian faith. Christians can practice their faith anywhere they choose. The freedom to practice the faith is a lot more important than building a building and calling it a church.

Thumb s.o.s 4 days

Good point. That's why France and western Europe is dealing with islamist terrorists They were too permissive... the people who move to any location on earth should adapt to the local culture. On top ofnthat, I'm sure the Christians , Buddhists, etc. In Saudi Arabia are not going to live there forever, they're there for work only.

Thumb irena 3 days

@armywbass
You are mistaken, we've never interacted before.

I always debate like a human being, I least I try to.
Irena from Croatia is not a gig.
I've already commented before on this site, each time using my first name. I don't do it too often though because I come here to get Lebanese input on things, not to read appalling insults commenters throw at each other. So, I stay away from commenting here regularly.

And if you wonder about my English, I'm an English Teacher.

Thumb marcus 3 days

Yes Irena, the poster must have mistaken you for one of the trolls. I can attest that all your comments have been civil, polite and engaging.