Hariri, Pope Benedict talks stress need for Mideast peace
BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri met Wednesday with Pope Benedict XVI at The Vatican for talks on recent developments in the region, a statement from Hariri’s press office said.
“Talks tackled the latest developments in the region and the importance of exerting all possible efforts to achieve peace in the region,” the statement said.
The meeting was attended by Lebanon’s Ambassador to the Vatican Georges Khoury, Hariri’s Chief of Staff Nader Hariri and his advisor Daoud al-Sayegh.
According to the statement, Hariri praised the pope for his support to Lebanon and the coexistence formula and for presenting the country as a model of balance to the region and to the world.
The pope visited Lebanon in mid-September, bringing a message of peace with him.
On Tuesday, the first of his two-day visit to the Vatican, Hariri discussed the situation in Lebanon and Syria with the Secretary for Relations with States Monsignor Dominique Mamberti.
Separately, Hariri’s press office denied Wednesday a local media report that the Future Movement leader had contacted Prime Minister Najib Mikati to discuss the situation in the southern city of Sidon.
Lebanon’s As-Safir newspaper reported Wednesday that Hariri had contacted Mikati to discuss Sidon’s situation after deadly clashes erupted over the weekend between supporters of Hezbollah and Sheikh Ahmad Assir.
“As-Safir quoted Wednesday ministerial sources as saying Hariri called Mikati to discuss the situation in Sidon. Saad Hariri’s press office would like to confirm that no phone call has taken place between the two for a long time,” the statement said.