BEIRUT: Hezbollah and Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai exchanged views Friday on a controversial trip by the cardinal to occupied Jerusalem.
“We gave our opinion and he gave his opinion,” Hezbollah official Ibrahim Amin Sayyed told reporters following talks with Rai in Bkirki, the seat of the Maronite Church.
“We spoke about the perils and the negative consequences of the visit at the Lebanese level and at the level of the Israeli entity and the region," added Sayyed, who headed the Hezbollah delegation to Bkirki.
“We hope that our position will be taken into account,” he said, adding that Rai had cited religious considerations to his visit, particularly in terms of the significance of Jerusalem to Christians, away from the political fallout.
Rai has said he will join Pope Francis during a tour of the Holy Land on May 24-26, a visit that would make Rai the first Maronite patriarch to travel to Israel since it was founded in 1948.
Sayyed said the delegation, which included Ghaleb Abu Zainab, a Hezbollah Political Council member, and politburo member Mustafa al-Hajj, also discussed the presidential election and stressed that Hezbollah MPs would not attend a voting session unless politicians agreed beforehand on a consensus candidate.
“If there is consensus on a president, one who is not a challenging figure and one who is acceptable to all Lebanese, we will go to Parliament,” he stressed.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said in remarks published earlier Friday that March 8 MPs would attend the May 22 session to elect a new president, but that he wasn’t sure whether they would vote for any candidate.
After the Hezbollah delegation left Bkirki, Rai held talks with Saudi Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri.