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Spiritual Summit Calls for Abiding by Constitutional Institutions, Shiite Council Rejects Closing Statement
(Retrieved from Naharnet on May 12, 2011)

The Christian-Islamic summit was held at Bkirki on Thursday with over 35 spiritual and religious leaders and representatives in attendance, during which they stressed the need to form a new government "that can perform its duties in the difficult phase the country and the Arab world are passing through."
The summit's closing statement stressed Lebanon's national unity, warning against the internal divisions that may once again endanger its security and stability.

It urged political leaders to form a new government according to the constitution, demanding that officials resort to dialogue in order to settle disputes.

The gatherers called for reaching a defensive strategy that "would enable the state to defend its policies and rights and respect the constitutional institutions and stress Lebanon's sovereignty and independence."

"The Lebanese state is a source of power for the Lebanese, which therefore requires citizens to respect its institutions," it continued.

The statement also called for respecting the Taif Accord, demanding that a strategy that may defend Lebanon be devised.

The Christian-Islamic summit stressed Lebanon's sovereignty and the state's right to liberate its lands, praising the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon's role in maintaining the security in the South.

It also condemned the attacks against Christians that have taken place in Egypt and Iraq, highlighting the Christian and Muslim role in the East.

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi had announced during the launch of the summit that other meetings will follow the Christian-Islamic summit in order to bolster cooperation between the spiritual and political authorities.

"We demanded that this summit be held because of the flaws in our national unity that have resulted in sectarian disputes that were caused by contradictory political decisions," he said.

"Holding the summit was therefore inevitable in order to confirm national principles and goals that would help officials take national decisions in a free and democratic manner to confirm coexistence between Christians and Muslims," he stated.

"The developments in the Arab world and their repercussions on Lebanon, given its current divisions, also drove us to hold this summit," the patriarch added.

Religious leaders and representatives present at the summit included the new Papal Ambassador to Lebanon, Monsengieur Gabriele Jordano Cascia, the Vice President of the Higher Islamic Shiite Council, Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan, Druze spiritual leader, Sheikh Naim Hassan, Sunni Mufti, Shiekh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, Head of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I Keshishian, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elias Aoude, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Father Riad Jarjoura on behalf of the Evangelical Church in Lebanon, and members of the Muslim-Christian national dialogue committee.

The Higher Islamic Shiite Council later objected to the summit's demand that the Lebanese state be granted the right to liberate its land, explaining: "The summit statement did not reflect our wishes."

"The end results did not reflect what had been agreed upon," it said in a statement.

"The Higher Islamic Shiite Council stressed Lebanon's right to liberate its land through the army, people, and Resistance especially since we are living in a country that does not have the ability to defend itself," it stated.

"We found that the summit closing statement differed than the one that was distributed for discussion among the gatherers, and we therefore stress that we are not concerned with it," emphasized the council.

"An agreement was reached that issues of dispute among the political powers would not be addressed," it added.