First Published: 2017-11-14

Lebanon's Maronite patriarch makes historic Saudi visit
Rahi’s trip to Saudi Arabia symbolises rare inter-religious exchange in ultra-conservative kingdom.
Middle East Online

Rahi: We will maintain a strong friendship between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon

RIYADH - Lebanon's Christian Maronite patriarch arrived in Riyadh Monday on a historic visit amid tensions between the two countries after the shock resignation of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri.

Bechara al-Rahi is expected to meet Hariri, who stepped down during a televised address on November 4 from Riyadh, where he is rumoured to be under de facto house arrest, despite his insistence that he was "free".

He is also set to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a trip that symbolises a rare inter-religious exchange in the ultra-conservative kingdom, which is home to the holiest sites in Islam.

"Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi's... visit stresses the kingdom's approach for peaceful coexistence, closeness and openness for all sections of Arabic people," Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan said on Twitter.

Upon his arrival, the patriarch met with members of the Lebanese community.

"We will maintain a strong friendship between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon," he said.

"This is our history even if we have had stormy relations sometimes. (There) is a history of friendship with this dear kingdom."

Hariri's resignation, which has thrown Lebanon into crisis, came against the backdrop of mounting tensions between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, which back opposing sides in power struggles in hotspots such as Syria and Yemen.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said France was "worried by the situation in Lebanon" and wanted to see the government there "stabilise as quickly as possible".

He is set to visit the Saudi capital on Thursday.

France joined Germany and the European Union on Monday in calling for an end to external interference in Lebanon -- buffeted for decades by conflicts between bigger players in the region such as Iran and Syria.

 

Libya to investigate 'slave auction' footage

Iraq top court declares Kurd referendum unconstitutional

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies push for unity against Iran, Hezbollah meddling

15 women killed in food aid crush in Morocco

Rare moments of joy at Arabs’ unprecedented World Cup qualifications

UN chief horrified by Libya slave auctions

Qatar 2022 chief has no regrets over hosting World Cup

Gheit says Lebanon should be 'spared' from regional tensions

Syria ‘de-escalation zone’ does nothing to stop civilian deaths

Is a demilitarised Palestinian state a viable option?

S&P affirms good Saudi credit ratings

Israel president faces big backlash over Palestinian scarf

Sudan leader to visit Russia Thursday

Seven years into Libya’s civil war, the chaos continues

Lebanon FM will not attend Arab League Iran summit

Syrian forces liberate Albu Kamal from IS

Israel votes to shut migrant centre, deport Africans

Diplomats from Iran, Russia, Turkey discuss Syria

Libya to investigate ‘slave auction’ footage

Piece by piece, Iran moves towards a ‘new empire’

Netanyahu faces new questioning over corruption case

Syria troops, allies retake most of Albu Kamal from IS

EU cuts funding to Turkey in 2018 budget

Lebanon's Hariri arrives in Paris

Egypt opens Gaza border for first time since unity deal

US-Russia rift threatens fragile prospects for Syria peace

'Caliphate' in tatters but IS still a threat

Saudi Arabia recalls ambassador to Berlin over Gabriel Lebanon comments

Russia again vetoes renewal of Syria gas attacks probe

UN weighs bid to save Syria gas attacks probe

IS attack kills 26 displaced people in Syria

Saudi FM says Lebanon 'held hostage by Hezbollah'

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 3 days

Turkish troops pulled from NATO drill amid new tensions

Six children among civilians killed in shelling of Eastern Ghouta

US official calls on Sudan to stop 'church demolitions'

Hariri set to leave Saudi Arabia for France

Fears of bombs, IS cells still haunt Mosul

Iraq retakes Rawa, last town held by IS

Riyadh striking deals with people detained in anti-graft purge

Iran criticises French Mideast policy

Russia again blocks UN resolution on Syria action

Israel military chief says ready to cooperate with Saudi Arabia

Egypt confirms death of wanted jihadist

UK denies link between citizen detained in Iran and £400m debt