BEIRUT: U.S. Ambassador David Hale praised Monday all efforts to build bridges among Lebanon’s various communities, vowing that his country would continue to support such initiatives.
Hale paid a visit to newly elected Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian at the latter’s residence in Beirut’s Aicha Bakkar neighborhood, a U.S. Embassy statement said.
Hale congratulated Derian on his election as grand mufti and conveyed the respect and best wishes of the United States, the statement added.
According to the statement, Hale and Derian affirmed the importance of moderation and tolerance in Lebanon to prevent the spread of conflict and sectarianism.
“I just heard from him [Derian] a very powerful message of moderation,” Hale said, “a message of moderation that is consistent with the true message of all great faiths, including Islam.”
Hale praised the many people working “to build bridges across communities rather than to build barriers,” and stressed that the U.S. would continue to support such efforts in Lebanon.
“For our part, the United States Embassy is pledged to doing everything we can to help spread the message of embracing diversity as the key goal here,” Hale said.
“We are going to continue that effort and certainly today it was wonderful to have the chance to congratulate Sheikh Derian, to congratulate the Sunni community, and to congratulate all Lebanese upon his assumption of this very important post,” he said.
Consensus among Sunni leaders led to the election Sunday of Derian, the head of the Higher Sunni Religious Court, as Lebanon’s new grand mufti. His term officially begins on Sept. 15.