File - Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai heads a Muslim-Christian summit in Bkirki, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai will avoid political meetings in his upcoming historic trip to occupied Jerusalem, on which he will accompany the pope, a representative from Bkirki said, while Hezbollah declined to comment on the visit.Boulos Sayyah, Rai's representative, said the patriarch would avoid political meetings and not fly through Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport with the papal delegation, opting to cross into occupied Jerusalem through the Jordan crossing instead. Rai confirmed earlier this week that he would join the pope on his trip to occupied Jerusalem later this month, becoming the first head of Lebanon's Maronite Church to visit Israel since it was founded in 1948 .Sayyah strongly denied that the visit had any political significance and said Rai, being the head of the largest Maronite Church in the east, had a duty to accompany the pope.Pope Francis' May 24-26 itinerary includes visits to Jordan, Israel and Palestine.
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