(UPDATE) Mikati holds joint press conference with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, emphasizes mutual priorities with Vatican

NNA – In a joint press conference with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Vatican, Caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, on Wednesday extended a warm welcome to the visiting dignitary.nbsp;

quot;I am delighted to welcome you to Lebanon, a visit that is highly appreciated by all Lebanese,quot; Mikati stated, noting that this is Cardinal Parolinrsquo;s second visit since the devastating Beirut port explosion in August 2020.

Prime Minister Mikati expressed his pleasure upon hearing from the Cardinal about Pope Francis#39; daily concern for Lebanon and his deep affection for the country and its people, praising the Pope#39;s recognition of Lebanon#39;s unique role in the Middle East as a hub of religions, cultures, and spiritual communities.nbsp;

Mikati also acknowledged the Vatican#39;s continuous and dedicated follow-up on Lebanon#39;s various concerns, which he personally observed during their meeting at the Holy See in March of the previous year.nbsp;

The Prime Minister then commended Cardinal Parolin#39;s statements from Bkerke the previous day, where he expressed hope for solutions for Lebanon and its suffering people and emphasized Lebanon#39;s model of coexistence.

Mikati further outlined several priorities shared with the Holy See aimed at protecting Lebanon and its people, strengthening security, and fostering economic recovery. These priorities include:

-Electing a President for the Republic as soon as possible to avoid the detrimental consequences of prolonged vacancy at all levels.

-Rebuilding the state and its institutions, adhering to the constitution for the collective Lebanese interest, and enhancing communal living.

-Working towards internal stability and finding solutions to the long-standing economic and social crises.

-Striving by all available means to prevent Lebanon from becoming a battleground for armed conflicts, especially in the south, and implementing relevant international resolutions to curb Israel#39;s expansionist ambitions, thereby ensuring Lebanon#39;s stability and interests are not entangled in complex and endless wars.

-Maintaining the best possible relations with friendly and supportive countries during these challenging times, foremost among them the Holy See, which has consistently provided support and assistance, spearheaded by Pope Francis and senior Vatican officials.

Prime Minister Mikati took this opportunity to renew Lebanonrsquo;s invitation to Pope Francis to visit the country.nbsp;

quot;All the Lebanese eagerly await this visit and view it, following the election of a new President, as a beacon of hope and a primary factor for relief,quot; Mikati remarked. Furthermore, Mikati was encouraged by Cardinal Parolin#39;s emphasis on the importance of maintaining national accord among Lebanese people and ensuring all necessary conditions for its success, as it is vital for Lebanon#39;s salvation and unity.

In conclusion, Mikati reiterated his welcome to Cardinal Parolin, appreciating his blessed visit and the good tidings it brings to Lebanon and its people.

For his part, Secretary of State of the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, affirmed that quot;the Apostolic See is concerned about the current vacuum in the presidency of the Republic, as it is crucial for every country to have a president. This is not just a possibility but a necessity, and in Lebanon, it is an urgent necessity.quot;nbsp;

Moreover, Parolin emphasized that quot;the president alone is the head of state and a symbol of national unity. It is their role to uphold respect for the constitution, the independence of the country, and the integrity of its territories.quot;nbsp;

He expressed hope quot;that political parties can find a solution as soon as possible, through respecting the constitution and the dignity of the exhausted and anxious Lebanese people, who feel somewhat humiliated due to this constitutional vacuum. Moreover, the economic crisis continues to worsen, exacerbating poverty and migration in Lebanon.quot;

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=========R.H.