The Vatican has expressed its satisfaction with the latest rapprochement between the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement, reiterating its warning that the Baabda Palace vacuum puts the Christians in danger.
Maronite Bishop of Beirut Boulos Matar told al-Joumhouria daily published on Tuesday that the meetings of Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Rome “have been positive.”
“The Vatican believes that the Christian reconciliation meeting, which took place in Maarab, helps the presidential elections,” he said.
The Vatican supports any reconciliation that takes place among the different Lebanese factions, Matar told the newspaper.
LF chief Samir Geagea withdrew from the presidential race last week and announced his endorsement of his long-time rival MP Michel Aoun, the founder of the FPM.
The bishop revealed that France continues to work with Vatican officials to help the Lebanese elect a new president. “They are also following up the issue with the Iranians during (President Hassan) Rouhani's visit to Paris.”
Rouhani traveled to Italy on Monday on his first visit to Europe since Tehran's nuclear deal with the West came into force this month.
He is due at the Vatican on Tuesday where Pope Francis is expected to reiterate concerns over human rights and the death penalty in Iran, as well as asking Rouhani to help protect Christians in the Middle East.
The Iranian leader, who is accompanied by more than 100 ministers, officials and businessmen, will fly on to France Wednesday.
Lebanon’s political crisis, which erupted following the end of the term of President Michel Suleiman in May 2014, is expected to be among the major topics that will be discussed by Rouhani and French President Francois Hollande.
On al-Rahi's visit to Rome, informed sources told An Nahar daily that the Vatican insists on the swift election of a president.
Lebanon's next “president should be a bridge of communication among the different factions,” they said.
“The prolonged vacuum not just puts Christians in Lebanon in danger but in the entire region,” the sources said.