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bkirki meeting 0602  patriarch rai 2 defLebanese Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara al-Rai defended Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during his meetings in Pais by stressing that he is not worse than the rebels engaged in the fight against the Syrian government, Hezbollah’s Al Manar reported on Wednesday.

Al-Hayat, reported on Wednesday that French President Froncois Hollande received Rai in Paris, adding that the two men discussed the Lebanese-French ties and the situation in the region .

Al-Hayat, quoted well-informed source as saying that “Patriarch Rai voiced concern over the situation of the Christians in Syria and the increasing number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.”

“Rai told Hollande that a huge number of Orthodox Syrians had left their country, and they represent 60 percent of Christians in Syria,” the source noted.

Rai has been praising the Syrian regime ever since he was elected to replace Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir. His siding with the Syrian regime has caused divisions within the Christian community, according to analysts.

Rai is currently meeting with former Lebanese PM Saad Hariri in Paris according to NNA to discuss the electoral law proposals for the 2013 elections..

Cardinal Rai left Beirut on Monday and headed for Paris, where he met with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius upon his arrival.

Cardinal Rai discussed with Fabius the latest developments in Lebanon along with some regional affairs highlighting the key role that Lebanon played in maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East, LBC reported

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