BEIRUT: Deputy President of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Abdul-Amir Qabalan handed a letter to newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale Tuesday asking Washington to support a political solution to the Syria crisis.
Qabalan’s letter asked the U.S. “to support a political solution in Syria, [achieved] through dialogue between the conflicting parties, and away from military solutions, which will have negative repercussions in the region.”
“When America acts for peace, justice and equality, it will be stronger than engaging in wars that would complicate the issue. America should preserve the blood of Syrians,” the National News Agency reported the letter as saying.
Qabalan wished Hale luck in his mission and hoped the new envoy would work to create peace in Lebanon and the region.
He asked Washington to work on giving people their freedom in Syria by refraining from supporting radical Islamists and criminals who were killing innocent people and violating their freedoms.
Qabalan’s letter also spoke about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians: “Israel is practicing terrorism against the Palestinians as it occupies their land [and] forces the Palestinian people out of their homes to build its settlements.”
“The solution to the Palestinian issue is through the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and the creation of an independent Palestinian state,” the letter continued.
Hale reiterated Tuesday that Beirut must remain neutral in relation to the crisis in Syria, the NNA said.
His remarks came during a meeting with caretaker Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi.
Hale and Safadi discussed the economic situation in Lebanon and assistance the government needs to cope with the growing number of Syrian refugees in the country.
The NNA said Hale renewed Washington’s support for Lebanon and its institutions, particularly the Army.
Following talks in Beirut, Hale traveled to Diman, the seat of the Maronite Church in north Lebanon, for a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai.
During the meeting, Rai told Hale that the Maronite church rejected all forms of violence, killing, terrorism and kidnapping and supported peaceful means to resolve conflicts.
“Rejecting war does not mean supporting any side of the conflict in Syria or any other country in the region,” Rai said, according to the NNA.
The patriarch also touched on the abduction of two Syrian bishops earlier this year and the recent “desecration of holy sites, [and attack on] worshipers and Christians, in particular in Maaloula, Blodan and other areas” of Syria. The patriarch also stressed the importance of preserving the presence of Christians in the Middle East.