Hezbollah and Patriarch Rai call for dialogue


A Hezbollah delegation held a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai Monday in the presence of former patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir in Bkirki, the seat of the Maronite Church, north of Beirut.

Following the meeting Sheikh Mohammad Amr, head of the Hezbollah delegation, told reporters that the turmoil in Syria could spill over into Lebanon and called on rival Lebanese factions not to interfere in internal Syrian affairs.

“The circumstances through which our country is passing are calm now. But the circumstances in the region within which we live are difficult, harsh and complicated,” Amr said

“We fear the [regional] conflict will spread to Lebanon. But with your wisdom and the wisdom of Lebanese leaders on whom we call to use reason and logic in their political movement and dialogue to stay away from interfering in others’ affairs because Lebanon cannot afford any political, military or security trouble,” Amr added.

Describing the situation in Lebanon as “delicate,” he said: “Lebanon carries a message. This message must be expressed through dialogue and logic and not by any other means.”

The popular uprising in Syria against the regime of President Bashar Assad, now in its 10th month, has sharply split the Lebanese. The Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance backs the Assad regime, while the opposition March 14 coalition, led by the Future Movement of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has come out in support of Syrian protesters demanding Assad’s ouster.

The Lebanese government, which is dominated by Hezbollah and its March 8 allies, has followed a policy of dissociating itself from U.N. or Arab League resolutions condemning Syria over its brutal crackdown on protesters.

Patriarch Raii stressed the need to establish a democratic civil state in Lebanon that respects all values and stands as an example for the East.

Prior to meeting with the Hezbollah delegation he said in Jbeil: “The state must separate between religion and politics … but not separate politics from God.”

Muslims and Christians would be able to cooperate in establishing the civil state that respects its people’s diversity, added the patriarch.

Rai called on officials to return to the national dialogue to resolve disputes and overcome insecurities.