Saudi king hosts Lebanon church leader in a first
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