Hariri: Pope’s Lebanon visit hinges on new government

Cairo: Lebanon’s premier-designate Saad Al Hariri has said that Pope Francis is interested in visiting Lebanon, but after a government is installed in the crisis-hit country.

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“His Holiness the pope will visit Lebanon but after the formation of the government,” Al Hariri tweeted following talks with Francis in the Vatican.

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Hariri, a veteran politician, was picked to form the Lebanese government. But he has since failed to stitch together a government amid a dispute with Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

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“This is a message to all Lebanese and political factions that we have to expedite the formation of the government,” Al Hariri added in a series of tweets.

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He added that he discussed with the pontiff the role that the Vatican can play to help Lebanon overcome its crises.

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“We are in a very bad situation. But the government’s formation will help stop this collapse. Some people want Lebanon and its entity to collapse to remain in politics,” he said without elaborating.

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Deadlock in Lebanon

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Al Hariri also met in Rome with senior Italian officials during a short trip on Thursday.

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He has recently visited some other countries to drum up support for ending the deadlock in Lebanon, which grapples with its worst financial crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

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Last August, Lebanon saw a deadly explosion at the Beirut port that also devastated large parts of the city and fuelled public outrage against the country’s ruling class.

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The government resigned days after the blast, but has since acted in a caretaker capacity.

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