Visiting Lebanese patriarch meets Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia

This handout picture released by the press office of Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarchate shows Lebanon’s resigned prime minister Saad Hariri meeting with Lebanon’s Christian Maronite patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi in the Saudi capital Riyadh on November 14, 2017. (Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarchate press office via AFP)
Updated 15 November 2017
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Visiting Lebanese patriarch meets Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Lebanon’s Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi, head of the Maronite Church, met on Tuesday with Saad Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister from Riyadh on Nov. 4.
Patriarch Al-Rahi is making a historic first visit to Saudi Arabia. He arrived in Riyadh on Monday evening and met with community members.
Before leaving Beirut, Al-Rahi said: “The Kingdom has long supported Lebanon … relations between us are based on friendship and brotherhood.”
“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,” Al-Rahi’s spokesman Walid Ghayyad told Arab News in Beirut on Monday.
Hariri announced his resignation in a television broadcast, saying he believed there was an assassination plot against him and accused Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world.
Lebanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abdul Sattar Issa, said the patriarch’s visit demonstrated the important steps taken by Saudi Arabia to modernize its institutions and to reinforce perceptions of Islam as a religion of moderation.


Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

Updated 1 min 44 sec ago
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Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

  • 15 ambassadors will join Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
  • The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma.

United Nations, United States: After a week of bitter acrimony over Syria, UN Security Council ambassadors are heading to a farmhouse in southern Sweden for a retreat to try to break the deadlock over how to end the war.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley and her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia will be among the 15 ambassadors joining Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma that lead to military action by Washington and its allies against Syria.
The council met five times on Syria last week including on Tuesday when Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution setting up a chemical weapons probe while two other proposed measures failed to pass.
The Russia-US rivalry prompted Guterres to declare that the Cold War was “back with a vengeance.”
Asked whether he expected awkward moments during the Swedish retreat, Nebenzia told reporters: “I will see how they feel about dealing with me after all that happened.”
“It’s not news to anyone that the council is divided on Syria,” said Sweden’s Deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau. “There is some need for humility and patience at this moment.”
The council will be staying at Backakra, the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, who was the United Nations’ second secretary-general.
The residence located on the southern tip of Sweden, far from Stockholm, is a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy, said Skau.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.
The annual brainstorming session usually takes place in upstate New York, but Sweden, which is a non-permanent council member, offered to host this year’s gathering.
Guterres had told council members that the focus of the meeting would be his plan for a “surge of diplomacy” to address conflicts worldwide, but the council’s deadlock over Syria is emerging as the top priority.