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BEIRUT: Pope Francis called on “all Lebanese to cooperate to save their country so that it can regain its role as a model of dialogue and convergence between East and West”.

The Pope on Thursday received Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who visited to seek advice from the Vatican in light of the difficulties facing Lebanon.

Mikati quoted the Pope stressing “how crucial the role and interaction of the Lebanese with their Arab environment is in making Lebanon a pioneer and unique country”.

He declared that Pope Francis had told him that he “will make the necessary efforts in all international forums to help Lebanon to pass this difficult stage and to restore peace and stability”.

Mikati said, “We both agreed on the importance of activating Islamic-Christian relations. “

The Prime Minister is counting on the Pope’s ability to promote the Lebanese cause to other countries.

“In these difficult times, we urgently need the support of our friends,” Mikati said after the meeting.

He added, “The more secure Christians in Lebanon feel, the more it will reflect on all Christians in the East. I am convinced that the Holy See can play a great role in this regard.

Mikati said Christians in the East “have been among the pillars of freedoms, human rights and freedom of belief, and have always found refuge in Lebanon.”

Mikati also met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“Lebanon is essential to the Christian presence in the East, and it has always been an example to the world on how societies can coexist,” Mikati’s media office said quoting Parolin.

He continued: “Lebanon receives special attention from the Holy See.

“Any credible government should guarantee the country’s obligations, especially with the international community. “

Parolin expressed his concerns about the economic and social situation in Lebanon.

“The Vatican will make efforts to support Lebanon in international forums,” he said, stressing “the need for Lebanon to maintain the best relations with its Arab environment and the international community”.

After the meetings, Mikati said he detailed “the government’s plans to address the challenges Lebanon faces” to Vatican officials.

Mikati said he believes the Pope is satisfied with the efforts “we are making to maintain security and stability in Lebanon, deal with the enormous difficulties the country faces and continue to adhere to the national choices on which the Lebanese are. unanimously agree, as well as strengthen relations between Lebanon and the world.

The Prime Minister added that Pope Francis “is fully aware of the Lebanese situation and the prevailing conditions, and stressed the need for everyone to cooperate to preserve the Lebanese message and stop the mass emigration of all sects”.

Lebanon is currently attracting wide international attention, with influential countries monitoring the behavior of Lebanese forces with regard to constitutional demands, the first of which are parliamentary elections.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is due to visit Lebanon in December. Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher is also expected to visit in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, one of the crises that has gained global attention has seen some developments. The families of the victims of the Beirut port explosion have brought important accusations as they staged a sit-in at the Beirut courthouse in solidarity with Tarek Bitar, the judge leading the investigation into the explosion.

William Noun, brother of Joe Noun, victim of the explosion, said: “Documents revealed that on July 20, 2020, two weeks before the explosion, the Lebanese army was informed of the dangerous amounts of ammonium which were stored in the port.

Noun claimed that the military “knew, as did the president, the prime minister and the attorney general, who all failed in their duties.”

Noun appointed an army general, saying he “continues to provide false information for investigation and justice.”

On Thursday, the General Authority of the Court of Cassation dismissed Bitar’s dismissal lawsuits filed by a group of politicians accused of being involved in the port explosion.

While there are no internal political solutions to the ministerial stalemate and the crisis with the Gulf, Deputy Prime Minister Saadeh Al-Shami announced on Thursday that technical negotiations with the International Monetary Fund were almost completed .

Al-Shami said: “We have entered the negotiation phase on monetary and economic policies to seriously enter into negotiations with the IMF team, which we hope will visit Lebanon soon.

He said: “Each minister is working on files within their purview, provided that the government’s plan is announced as soon as it is completed,” stressing that the Cabinet must meet to approve the plan.

“Our goal is always to reach a preliminary agreement before the end of the year, after which we can reach a final agreement in January 2022,” Al-Shami said, adding: “We also need to address the exchange rate. , monetary policy, and the banking and financial sector, and we are preparing a vision of how to address this issue, which we will announce when completed. “

Speaking of the impact of legislative elections on negotiations with the IMF, he noted: “The IMF will not associate any problem with elections, but they can sometimes affect negotiations.

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