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Lebanese cardinal calls for ‘unified stance’ against terrorism

Cardinal Bechara Rai (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai has called for a “unified international stance” against terrorism at a meeting with top ambassadors.

The Maronite Catholic patriarch stressed that terrorism posed a major challenge to the Christian presence in the Middle East.

Invited by Cardinal Rai, the ambassadors to Lebanon of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council met at Bkerke, the Maronite Patriarchate headquarters north of Beirut.

Attending were Sigrid Kaag, representative of the UN secretary-general, US ambassador David Hale, French ambassador Patrice Paoli, European Union ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, British ambassador Tom Fletcher and Chinese ambassador Jiang Jiang.

The Vatican nuncio to Lebanon, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, also attended.

In addition to regional issues, the leaders discussed the stalemate in the election of a president in Lebanon. The post, reserved for a Maronite Catholic, has been vacant since the six-year mandate of former president Michel Sleiman ended in May 2014 because of the failure of rival parties to agree on a candidate.

Cardinal Rai has accused the country’s political parties of relying on external powers for directives.