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Lebanon Must Stay Neutral to Stave off Poverty, Urges Rai

Lebanon Must Stay Neutral to Stave off Poverty, Urges Rai

Wednesday, 15 July, 2020 - 17:00
President Michel Aoun receives Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai at the Baabda presidential palace. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Lebanon needs to stay neutral to be saved from hunger and poverty, Maronite Patriach Beshara al-Rai said on Wednesday, urging Lebanese to keep out of conflicts in Arab countries but denying he was referring specifically to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Rai spoke after meeting President Michel Aoun.

Lebanon is in the throes of an acute financial crisis seen as the worst threat to its stability since the 1975-90 civil war. The crisis is rooted in decades of state corruption and bad governance by the sectarian ruling elite.

In his last two sermons, Rai made comments that were widely interpreted as criticism of both Hezbollah and its ally Aoun. On Wednesday, the patriarch said his comments had been misunderstood

“We will not be saved from the state we are in today - the economic problem, poverty and hunger - other than through neutrality,” Rai said told reporters after the meeting.

Lebanon should not get into “political or military struggles or alliances” in the Arab world.

Asked if he was speaking about Hezbollah, he said: “On the contrary, I told the president I mean everyone”.

Rai also warned that poverty and unemployment were leaving the door open for foreign interference in Lebanon, without giving details.

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