Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The pope's attention to Lebanon and to its identity were reaffirmed today, on the occasion of the visit of Lebanese president Michel Suleiman with Benedict XVI today. A statement released by the Vatican at the end of the "cordial talks" also mentions the "lively appreciation" expressed "for the efforts that the country and its leaders are making in order to bring institutional life back on the track of normal political counterbalance, in which each component of the Lebanese people can make its contribution to the common good and see its concerns and expectations receive proper consideration." "They spoke, finally, of the delicate regional situation, expressing hope for a rapid and just solution of the Palestinian question and making reference to the conditions and problems of the Christian communities in the Middle East."
The Lebanese president came to the Vatican accompanied by his wife, Wahaffa, their two daughters, Rita and Lara, and an entourage including foreign minister Fawzi Salloukh. The president and Benedict XVI greeted each other very cordially, after the pope went to meet his guest in the Sala del Tronetto and then invited him to sit at the desk of his study. After the private conversation, which lasted 25 minutes and was held without any interpreters, Suleiman, in a dark blue suit and maroon tie, introduced his family and entourage to the pope. At the exchange of gifts, the president gave him a book (in the photo) in Arabic, with the canons of the Lebanese synod of 1736, from which, he reminded the pope, "the Maronite Church was born," the Church to which he himself belongs. "We have it in Latin in our library," Benedict XVI replied, and then showed his guest the medal of the pontificate that he gave to him: "this is the insignia of my pontificate."
After the meeting with Benedict XVI, Suleiman met with cardinal secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone and with the secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.
Photo courtesy of CPP