Lebanon News

Sleiman: Israel not strong enough to attack Lebanon

BEIRUT: Israel is unable to attack Lebanon given the latter’s strength, President Michel Sleiman said on Sunday.

Israel’s threats against Lebanon were only the result of internal pressure, the premier added following an Easter meeting with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir.

Addressing reporters in Sfeir’s Bkirki residence, Sleiman also stressed that there were many commitments to be fulfilled ahead of the municipal elections.

“There are reforms in several realms including administrative decentralization, laws and administration reforms and the administrative appointments for which we will approve a mechanism in the coming week,” Sleiman said.

Concerning his meeting with Sfeir, Sleiman would only say it was “good” and confirmed had delivered an Easter greeting to the patriarch.

Sleiman assured Sfeir that Lebanon was currently enjoying a period of relative stability and “this stage will persist in 2010 on all levels.”

Prior to the meeting, Sleiman and first lady Wafaa Sleiman participated in an Easter mass led by Sfeir along with Bishops Roland Abu Jawdeh, Shukrallah Harb and several other religious figures.

A number of MPs, Cabinet minister and military commanders were also present at the mass, held in the outer courtyard of the Patriarchate in Bkirki.

In his sermon, Sfeir asked whether Sleiman and his aides would be able to rescue Lebanon from surrounding dangers.

On Saturday, the Maronite patriarch received delegations extending congratulations for Easter. Among the delegations was the Council of Orders in Lebanon, headed by Archimandrite Jean Farah, as well as a Caritas delegation.

On Monday, Sfeir and a number of religious figures led the annual traditional prayers honoring France.

The ceremony was held in Bkirki and attended by the French Ambassador to Lebanon Denis Pietton and several French Embassy officials.

Following the prayers, French delegates joined Sfeir in extending their Easter greeting. Sfeir made a speech in which he touched on the ongoing cultural relations between Lebanon and France.

For his part, Pietton talked about the historical ties between Lebanon and France, detailing efforts made by his country to enhance the role played by Lebanese institutions and to bolster the state’s control on them.

Sfeir also received Education and Higher Education Minister Hassan Mneimneh, Catholic Schools Secretary General Marwan Tabet, Judge Jean Fahd, heading a delegation of Mexican lawyers, a Phalange Party delegation, Labor Minister Butros Harb and a number of other political and social figures delivering their regards for Easter.

He also received messages of support during phone calls from former Deputy Speaker Issam Fares, former premiers Najib Mikati and Fouad Siniora, Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Kabbani, Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Naeem Hassan and former Minister Karam Karam.

In other Easter masses, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Beirut Bishop Elias Awdeh led Sunday prayers in downtown’s Saint George Cathedral amid a crowd of worshippers.

The issue of municipal elections was raised by Awdeh during the Mass.

“True democratic states respect their constitutions and deadlines whereby no one discusses the date of holding presidential, parliamentary or municipal elections,” said Awdeh, adding that transition of power in Lebanon was essential.

He highlighted the individual’s right to express opinion, achieve employment based on aptitude, and enjoy personal security in at home and in the country.





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