07/11/2005, 00.00
SYRIA - LEBANON
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Re-establish normal Syro-Lebanese relations, says the Patriarch of Antioch

by Jihad Issa
Ignatius IV Hazim, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, in his visit to Lebanon, has invited young people "to work together in every which way for Lebanon's renaissance and help preserve a Christian presence, its witness and mission" in the country.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – After arriving in Lebanon July 9, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius IV Hazim, said relations between the Lebanese and Syrian people—so fouled by the errors of some—must regain a sense of normalcy and guarantee the Christian presence in the Mideast region so that "it may be witness and mission".

His visit is intended to pursue the "goal of détente" and comes after the pullout of Syrian troops from the land of the cedars and the recent parliamentary elections, marked by controversy surrounding the 2000, Syrian-sponsored electoral law, that some have called "unjust".

Ignatius IV also met the French Ambassador to Lebanon, Bernard Emieh, in his diplomatic offices in Balamand, northern Lebanon.

The patriarch said the meeting was "very constructive" and stressed "the importance of Western participation in the process of democratisation in many countries in the region".

The discussion between the two men also touched upon the "cultural role played by France that must be preserved in order to keep the country's Francophone presence and culture alive".

The Patriarch then met young Lebanese Orthodox to whom he reminded their "duty to work together in every which way for Lebanon's renaissance and help preserve the Christian presence, its witness and mission" in the country.

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