President Nicos Anastasiades continued his visit to Lebanon on Tuesday, meeting the country’s Grand Mufti and the House Speaker.
After his meeting with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian he said that religious issues had never been a source of conflict and division in Cyprus, and underlined the island’s contribution to interreligious dialogue.
He then visited the historic Martyrs’ Square, where he laid a wreath.
During his meeting with House Speaker Nabih Berri, the two men and the two delegations discussed issues of mutual interest, especially energy, economy and problems of the region.
Anastasiades referred again to the trilateral meeting due to take place in Cyprus with the heads of state of the two countries plus Greece “to face challenges which are common but at the same time will give answers to the problems we are facing for the best interest of the people, for the prosperity of our peoples.”
On Monday night, Anastasiades met the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and Head of the Maronite Church Bechara Boutros al-Rahi.
The Patriarch referred to the close ties of friendship between Cyprus and Lebanon, stressing that the ties were fraternal because of the large number of Maronites who have been residing on the island for centuries and have always wanted to be part of the Greek Cypriot community.
Anastasiades said he was proud of the significant contribution of the some 6,000-strong Maronite community to Cypriot society, including Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis who is with the president in Lebanon.
He also pledged his commitment to finding a Cyprus solution under which the Maronite villages in the north could return to Greek Cypriot administration as part of a settlement.
When the Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960, the Maronites opted to belong to the Greek Cypriot community.