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Hariri, Pope Discuss Syrian Crisis and Burden of Refugees | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri meets with Pope Francis. Dalati and Nohra photo

Beirut- Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri held separate talks on Friday with Pope Francis and Vatican’s Secretary of State Monsignor Pietro Parolin. Discussions focused on the situation in Lebanon and the regional crises, mainly the war in Syria.

“It was a very good meeting,” Hariri said following the talks at the Vatican.

The National News Agency reported that the Lebanese premier discussed with the pope the situation in Lebanon and the region, and the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, in addition to ties with the Vatican.

“The Vatican has a responsibility” regarding the burden of Syrian refugees, Hariri was quoted as saying following the talks.

“The Pope will work on this. But what is essential for me and for the displaced, is that no one is preventing any displaced from returning to Syria today. The right way for their return to their country should be found and there must be safe areas in Syria for the displaced to be convinced to return safely to their country and to these areas,” he said.

“In this way, we would have secured the return of the displaced to Syria. The talk about forcing them to return is out of the question, unnatural and inhuman,” Hariri added.

But the PM stressed that the Lebanese authorities had a role in protecting Lebanese citizens, by implementing laws that preserve their jobs.

“We heard from him that Lebanon is important to him and coexistence in Lebanon is an example for the whole region, and must be preserved,” Hariri said about the pope who promised to visit Lebanon.

“We discussed the problems in the region. His Holiness went to Egypt to confirm the importance of dialogue, especially between Muslims and Christians. He accepted to come to Lebanon, hopefully soon, and this is a positive thing,” Hariri added.