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Pope’s Lebanon visit should encourage dialogue: Sleiman

  • Lebanese President Michel Sleiman receives Pope Benedict XVI at Beirut airport, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: The recent visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon should be capitalized on through inter-Lebanese dialogue, President Michel Sleiman said in remarks Monday.

“Naturally, the way to capitalize on the pope's visit is via dialogue,” Sleiman told As-Safir newspaper, referring to the dialogue session scheduled for Thursday.

Lebanon relaunched National Dialogue earlier this year. The last dialogue session held on Aug. 16, the third this year since 2010, was set to continue discussing over the divisive issue of Hezbollah's weapons but talks were postponed due to the absence of Speaker Nabih Berri among others.

The next National Dialogue session is scheduled to take place on Sept. 20.

Although the country’s politicians remain divided over the issue of Hezbollah’s arsenal, Sleiman has said that he will propose a national defense strategy to benefit from the weapons of the resistance.

Sleiman, who took part in several ceremonies during the recent visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon, also described the three-day papal visit as “success” at the security and organizational levels despite protests in the region against an anti-Islam film that insults the Prophet Mohammad.

During his Sept. 14 to Sept. 16 visit, the pontiff stressed on unity among Lebanese and urged them to resist strife and combat attempts to disrupt peace in their country. He also called on Christians in the Middle East not to fear but brave the difficulties they face.

Sleiman said there were important lessons to be learned from the pope’s visit.

“The lessons that should be learned from this visit are fundamental, particularly that when we are in agreement we can accomplish anything – from stability to security,” Sleiman said.

He also noted the huge crowd that gathered from across the Lebanese spectrum to attend Sunday’s Mass that was headed by the Holy See.

The president also said that political leaders lose sight of the bigger picture when they continue arguing over the small details.

“We achieve whatever we need with our unity or at least with a minimum of harmony and interaction,” he added.

“We do not need a lot of effort to achieve desirable results.”

 
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