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Pope tells Hariri he hopes to visit Lebanon

Pope Francis reaffirms his desire to visit Lebanon in a meeting with prime minister-designate Saad Hariri, but the latter says it will only happen once a new government is formed.

During a private audience lasting around 30 minutes, the 84-year-old pontiff said he would like to visit Lebanon “as soon as the conditions are favorable,” according to a Vatican statement.

He expressed his “closeness to the Lebanese people, who are experiencing a moment of great difficulty and uncertainty” and called upon “all political forces to urgently commit themselves to the benefit of the nation.”

Lebanese Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri speaks to journalists after his meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, March. 22, 2021. (Dalati Nohra/Lebanese Official Government via AP)

Hariri, a three-time premier selected in October to form a new government, tells Lebanese media following the meeting that the pope would visit “only after the formation of a government.”

“That’s a message for the Lebanese, that we must form a government, so that all the forces and all the people come together, so that we can take Lebanon forward with our friends,” he says.

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