On the second day of his visit to Paris, His Beatitude Maronite Patriarch Bechara Butros el Rai paid a visit to the Faresresidence in Paris where he was whole-heartedly greeted by H.E. Mr. Issam Fares and his wife Mrs. Hala Fares. The closed-door reunion represented an occasion for both parties to resume the talks they had started on Monday evening during their first meeting. Discussions tackled general Lebanese topics and other crucial issues related to the Middle East and to the Syrian crisis and its repercussions on the Lebanese scene.
The Patriarch seized the opportunity of the meeting to keep Fares informed about the meetings he held with French President Francois Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
During this productive meeting, Fares affirmed his agreement with His Beatitude over the debated issues, appreciatingthe Patriarch's appeal for Fares to return to Lebanon. Fares renewed his commitment to remain close to the Lebanese and to address their needs and problems, whether through his personal presence or through his institutions.
The Patriarch raised high hopes for Fares return, deeming that his comeback would be tantamount to an effectivelycontribution in the realization of national balance and in spreading an atmosphere of confidence and reassurance among the Lebanese.
On the heels of the closed-door reunion, His Beatitude the Patriarch offered to Mrs. Hala Fares the icon of Virgin Mary in acknowledgment of her achievements, and presented to Issam Fares the Maronite Patriarchal Medal and the Medal of St. Maroun. For their part, the Fareses offered to His Beatitude a memorable gift in appreciation.
After taking memorial photos, H.E. Mr. Issam took the floor, saying:
We are happy to welcome you and the accompanying delegation, expressing our affection to your esteemed person and our allegiance to your spiritual and patriotic position. We looked forward in hope to your pioneer initiative which aims at deepening our unity, consolidating our presence, and promoting the role and presence.
Fares went on saying, 'Your role made the Christians in the region feel the church's vivid attention to their fate and their historic deep-rootedness in this region. You are still endeavoring to correct the increasing imbalance in the national balance through the adoption of a sound electoral law to all the components of the Lebanese society. You have launched as well advanced social initiatives that reflected the evangelical call to pay heed to the weak and the marginalized.
Supporting your efforts, we look forward for Lebanon and the region to realize real peace in light of democratic regimes that guarantee justice, freedom, and human rights, asking Almighty God to crown your endeavorswith success and to safeguard you in health and peace'.
Later, banquet was thrown in honor of the Patriarch and the accompanying delegation, attended by a large presence of invitees, among whom Lebanon's Ambassador to Paris Butros Asaker, Lebanon's Ambassador to the UNESCODr. Khalil Karam, Bishop Bulos Sayyah, former Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, Monsignor Amine Chahine, and the head of the Catholics Information Center reverend Abdo Abu Kasm, and a number of friends.