Saudi king hosts Le­banon church leader in a first

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - World -

Saudi Ara­bia’s King Sal­man on Tues­day hosted the head of the Le­banese Ma­ronite church, a his­toric first at a time when Riyadh is step­ping up pres­sure on Iran-backed Hezbol­lah.

Be­shara Rai ar­rived in Riyadh on Mon­day, the first trip to the king­dom by a se­nior Le­banese fig­ure since a cri­sis sparked by the res­ig­na­tion of prime min­is­ter Saad Hariri.

The pa­tri­arch and the king “re­viewed fra­ter­nal re­la­tions be­tween the king­dom and Le­banon and con­firmed the im­por­tance of the role of dif­fer­ent re­li­gions and cul­tures in pro­mot­ing tol­er­ance, re­nounc­ing vi­o­lence, ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism,” the Saudi Press Agency said.

Rai also met Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man on a trip that sym­bol­ises a rare in­ter-re­li­gious ex­change in the ul­tra-con­ser­va­tive king­dom.

Rai also held talks with Hariri, who stepped down on Novem­ber 4 in Riyadh.

Hariri’s res­ig­na­tion came against the back­drop of mount­ing ten­sions be­tween Sunni Saudi Ara­bia and Shia Iran, which back opposing sides in power strug­gles in hotspots such as Syria and Ye­men. AFP

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