Cardinal Sfeir says Mehlis report an important step towards truth
by Youssef Hourany

Back in Beirut, the patriarch did not want to talk about possible sanctions against Syria and he expressed hope for good relations between the Syrian and Lebanese peoples. In the coming weeks the Lahoud question will be discussed.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The report of the international inquiry of the UN Commission of Detlif Mehlis about the assassination of the former premier Rafic Hariri, although not final and conclusive, is an important step in the journey which must be taken to reach the truth. Such is the view of the Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, stated yesterday on his return to Lebanon after a month away, owing to works of the Synod of Bishops which took place in the Vatican.

Cardinal Sfeir said the commission should fulfil the mission for which it was formed and he asked for a more profound reading of the contents of the report. The Mehlis report, which was the highlight of yesterday´s debate at the UN Security Council, was one of the themes of a meeting between the patriarch and General Michel Aoun. The meeting took place in the late evening and lasted for around one hour. Journalistic sources said the meeting was positive and it tackled current issues like the possibility of President Lahoud remaining in his post. The same sources revealed that the patriarch refused to talk about possible sanctions against Syria, saying that all will come in its own time.

Regarding the future of the President of the Republic Emile Lahoud, he refused to answer to a question about the possible ousting of Lahoud, saying the solution to the question did not depend solely on him but rather on all citizens of Lebanon and that the theme would be discussed with the right people in the coming weeks.

On his return, Patriarch Sfeir was welcomed at the Beirut International Airport by the Justice Minister Charles Rizk, by bishops and by superior-generals of religious orders as well as by many ministers and MPs. The patriarch declared himself satisfied with the outcome of deliberations of the Synod of Bishops and he reiterated his gratitude to the pope for all the interest he showed towards the Lebanese and all Christians in the Middle East. He highlighted the importance of this synod, the first under the pontificate of Benedict XVI, on the theme of the Eucharist.

Before leaving the airport for the seat of the patriarchate in Bkerke, Patriarch Sfeir said he hoped for the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between Lebanon and Syria, exhorting both peoples to weave good relations, based on reciprocal esteem and common values shared by neighbouring countries.

When he arrived in Bkerke, the patriarch was welcomed by the son of President Lahoud, the former MP Emile Lahoud, by Faten Nader Nseir, director-general of social affairs of the presidency, by a representative of General Aoun, Gebran Bassil and many seminarians and bishops.