08/03/2005, 00.00
LEBANON – SAUDI ARABIA
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Bishops and Patriarchs send their best wishes to King Abdullah and mourn King Fahd

by Youssef Hourani

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir and the Bishops of the Maronite Church as well as Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregorios Laham III have sent their best wishes to Abdullah, the new Saudi king.

In a press release following their assembly today in Dimane (northern Lebanon), Maronite Bishops said they were hopeful that the new "reign will be one of prosperity, not only at the national, but also at the international level", knowing full well that the new sovereign "has a long and important experience" in government.

The Bishops expressed their sorrow for the death of King Fahd.

Patriarch Sfeir yesterday spoke of King Fahd's importance for Lebanon. It was Saudi—and Algerian and Moroccan—mediation that led to the Taef Accord in October 1989 that brought to an end Lebanon's civil war.

The Patriarch stressed that Fahd himself was bitter over the fact that the accord had not been implemented.

Under its terms, Syrian troops were supposed to be redeployed but this occurred a few months ago as a result of UN and Western pressures.

Cardinal Sfeir said he was praying for the soul of King Fahd, may he rest in peace, and for King Abdullah, that he may have a "fruitful reign" and long life.

Gregorios Laham III, Patriarch of Antioch and leaders of the Greek Melkites added his best wishes and prayers.

At the Saudi Embassy in Beirut today, he wrote in the Book of Condolences: "With the passing of King Fahd, the Arab world and the world as a whole have lost a leader who led his country towards the Harbour of Peace.

"The Greek-Melkite Church mourns the death of the King, and hopes that the new sovereign's mandate is full of initiatives in favour of all, capable of ensuring every man his fundamental liberties".

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