Maronite Patriarch Bechara Butros el Rai hosted at his wing at Raphael Hotel in Paris former Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares in their first meeting since the election of Patriarch el Rai in March 2011. The fruitful bilateral meeting touched upon the prevailing situation in Lebanon and the Middle East region and the critical conditions the Middle Eastern countries are going through a result of the political and military tension and its negative repercussions.
During the meeting, the Maronite Patriarch renewed his call for the international community to bring to a halt the war operations and assassinations and to adopt dialogue as the only mean to settle down the ongoing conflicts.
During the meeting, discussions also revolved around the Lebanese situation, mainly the heated controversy over the electoral law, the formation of a new government, and the economic situation and living conditions. Both parties emphasized the imperative necessity to reach an electoral law that secures a sound representation and guarantees the Christians' effective participation and active role in the management of their national affairs, and the crucial need to form a government that is capable of facing the current internal and regional challenges and that addresses the pressing Lebanese economic and living conditions.
The Patriarch and Fares also recalled the landmark pastoral visit paid by His Beatitude to Akkar last summer, and stressed the necessity to issue decrees for the governorate of Akkar in order to contribute in the region's prosperous development.
El Rai underscored the importance for Fares' comeback to Lebanon, deeming that the country is in dire need of a 'loyal component' that contributes to its renaissance and to refining its real image in the world. He pinned high hopes for the availability of the appropriate conditions for his return which would promote confidence in Lebanon.
For his part, Fares expressed his appreciation for the patriarch's follow-up of this visit, based on his pastoral and national awareness of Akkar'svital needs. He renewed his strong support for the Patriarch's efforts which aim- on the local level- at enhancing national balance through a fair and modern electoral law that secures a sound representation, and - on the regional level- at affirming solidarity with the Middle Eastern countries in their crises, on the basis of the unity of History, fate, and future.
On the heels of their bilateral meeting, Fares threw a dinner banquet in honor of the Maronite Patriarch and the accompanying delegation, in the presence of Lebanon's Ambassador to the UNESCO Dr. Khalil Karam and the Cardinal of Paris.
It is worth saying that el Rai shall pay a visit to Fares residence on April 9 during which both parties will hold a closed-door meeting followed by another big reception thrown by Fares& his wife Mrs. Hala Fares to pay tribute to the Maronite Cardinal.
It is to mention that the head of the Maronite church had left Beirut on board of a private jet Issam Fares put at his disposal to undertake a long tour that would lead him to Paris, Latin America, and the Italian capital.
Prior to his departure from Beirut International Airport, the Patriarch answered the reporters' questions. Asked whether he shall urge Mr. Issam Fares to return to Lebanon to take part in the parliamentary elections because Lebanon is in need of symbols such as Fares, the Patriarch replied, 'I pay my tribute to President Issam Fares who put at our disposal a private jet for our visit from Paris to Argentine. I think that every Lebanese wishes the comeback of President Issam Fares to Lebanon, and I believe there no divergence of opinion over this point. This is what I wish, what the President of the Republic wishes, as well as every Lebanese citizen because Fares represents a great patriotic value for Lebanon in general, Akkar in particular'.
The Patriarch went on saying, 'when we visited Akkar, we felt how much the presence of H.E. Mr. Issam Fares is essential, and how much life he dedicated to Akkar, and how much he is loved in Akkar, and how much he cherishes Akkar. I think this is what the Lebanese unanimously agree upon. We hope he will return to Lebanon and hope that things will be settled down because, in the absence of laws, such as the electoral law for instance, and in the absence of a real democratic practice, many Lebanese personalities remain overseas'.