Maronite patriarch gets red-carpet welcome in Riyadh

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Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi talks with Saudi Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs Thamer Al-Sabhan. (SPA)
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Updated 13 November 2017
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Maronite patriarch gets red-carpet welcome in Riyadh

BEIRUT/RIYADH: The Lebanese head of the Maronite Catholic church, Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi, arrived to a red-carpet welcome in the Saudi capital on Monday.

Though he described his visit as “the first of its kind,” Al-Rahi said there has been continuous correspondence between the Maronite patriarchate and the Kingdom.

He thanked Walid Bukhari, minister plenipotentiary at the Saudi Foreign Ministry, for helping to prepare for the visit.

“We hope this visit will benefit Lebanon at all levels,” Lebanon’s National News Agency quoted Al-Rahi as saying.

“The Kingdom has long supported Lebanon… Relations between us are based on friendship and brotherhood.”

After meeting with the minister of state for Arab Gulf affairs, Thamer Al-Sabhan, Al-Rahi met with the Lebanese community in Riyadh at his country’s embassy.

Lebanon’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abdul Sattar Issa, will hold a dinner in honor of the patriarch and his accompanying delegation.

On Tuesday, Al-Rahi will meet with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who will hold a lunch in the patriarch’s honor.

Al-Rahi will also meet on Tuesday with Saad Hariri, who resigned as Lebanon’s prime minister last week, before leaving Riyadh for Rome to attend ecclesiastical meetings.

The Maronite sect is Lebanon’s largest Christian community and the Middle East’s largest Catholic church.

The patriarchate’s media spokesman Walid Ghayyad told Arab News that the visit is “historic and exceptional.”

Al-Rahi had planned his visit before Hariri announced his resignation in Riyadh on Nov. 4. Ghayyad said Al-Rahi will ask Hariri why he resigned, and will inform Lebanese President Michel Aoun about the outcome of their talks.

“The patriarch represents all the patriarchs and Christians of the East. He is carrying a message of love and openness to Saudi Arabia, which is now witnessing further openness and positive changes,” said Ghayyad, who is accompanying Al-Rahi.

“We thank the Kingdom for inviting the patriarch on this momentous visit, especially since it complements… historical relations between the two countries.”


Saudi Arabia says deposits $250 million into Sudan's Central Bank: statement

Updated 27 min 32 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia says deposits $250 million into Sudan's Central Bank: statement

  • Saudi Arabia and UAE pledged to send $3 billion worth of aid to Sudan
  • The remaining amount will be allocated to meet the urgent needs of the Sudanese people

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it deposited $250 million with the Sudanese central bank, according to a statement from the Kingdom’s ministry of finance.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged to send $3 billion worth of aid to Sudan, after mass protests led to the ouster of president Omar al-Bashir last month.

The move will strengthen Sudan’s “financial position, alleviate pressure on the Sudanese pound and achieve more stability in the exchange rate," the statement said.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have deposited now $500 million into Sudan’s Central Bank, the first instalment of the joint package of aid.

The remaining amount will be allocated to meet the urgent needs of the Sudanese people, including food, medications and oil derivatives.

Mohammed Abdullah Al-Jadaan, Minister of Finance, confirmed that this deposit constitutes an extension of the Kingdom’s support to the Sudanese people.

He added that this support will strengthen the financial and economic situation in Sudan, especially the exchange rate of the Sudanese pound, which should reflect positively on the living conditions of the Sudanese citizens.