11/10/2017, 11.06
LEBANON - SAUDI ARABIA

Card. Raï confirms his historic visit to Riyadh. He will meet Hariri

He will remind Saudi leaders that Lebanon "cannot withstand the wars of others on its soil". Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Kuwait alert fellow citizens to leave the Land of Cedars "as soon as possible".

Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Maronite Patriarch Bechara Raï has decided - for the moment - not to postpone the first historic journey of a Christian leader to Saudi Arabia during which he will meet Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who has been in Riyadh for a week. Yesterday the Cardinal met with the head of state Michel Aoun in the Presidential Palace in Baabda; official sources, behind anonymity, report that "Raï's visit to Saudi Arabia remains on schedule" and the Cardinal will try to see Hariri "to ask him about the situation".

According to sources, the Maronite Patriarch will report to Saudi Arabia that " cannot withstand the wars of others on its soil or the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia". Among other issues, interreligious dialogue, the condemnation of terrorism and extremism, the situation of Lebanese people working in the country, about 300,000 according to ministerial data.

Yesterday, at the end of face to face with Aoun, Card. Raï left the palace without making any comment. According to the National News Agency, the talks focused on "the current situation and the latest developments"; the president re-launched the task of preserving "national unity" and safeguarding Lebanon "from regional conflicts".

The mission to Riyadh scheduled for November 13, should last one day and is increasingly taking on the contours of a political, rather than religious, mission. In the context of the visit, the Cardinal will read to the Saudi leaders a message from Lebanese President, then return to the Vatican, where he will stay for a week and meet Pope Francis.

Meanwhile, according to some well-informed sources, the Maronite Patriarch would have obtained permission to meet Hariri from the Saudis the "in principle". The trip to Riyadh was announced in the days preceding the sudden resignation of the premier in the context of a trip to Saudi Arabia, where he is still waiting for his return to Lebanon. The Saudi leaders deny that he is in a state of arrest; however, a strong tide is sweeping through the Wahhabite kingdom and the future of the former Lebanese premier appears uncertain.

From internal repression against (possible) opponents launched by hereditary prince Mohammed bin Salman (Mbs) culminating in the wave of recent arrests to open confrontation with Iran, Mbs has embarked on increasingly aggressive policies that are characterizing his mandate. Recently, the long Saudi hand has also reached Beirut - considered hostile to (allegedly) attacks by the Hezbollah Lebanese Shiite - and causing the resignation of Saad Hariri.

Meanwhile, the list of countries alerting their fellow citizens, urging them to leave "Lebanon" as soon as possible or avoid traveling for tourism or business, has grown. After Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (EAU) also launched the alert to confirm the growing tension in the region.

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