Hariri Meets Geagea in Maarab: March 14 Brings Us Togetherإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri held talks Monday evening in Maarab with Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, following a strain in relations between the two parties.
The meeting between the two leaders was also attended by the LF chief's wife MP Sethrida Geagea and Hariri's advisers Hani Hammoud and Nader Hariri, state-run National News Agency reported.
Geagea threw a dinner banquet in Hariri's honor after the talks.
"Your speech was excellent yesterday," MTV quoted MP Geagea as telling Hariri upon his arrival in Maarab.
"Your presence among us resolves the country's issues," the LF chief for his part told Hariri, according to the TV network.
Hariri and Geagea later held a joint press conference and answered questions from reporters.
“We are comrades of the same path and this visit was scheduled in advance and we reject to say that it is for apology,” said Geagea at the conference.
Asked about Hariri's remarks at the BIEL rally, which have infuriated LF supporters, Geagea stressed that he did not consider the ex-PM's statement an insult to him.
“I took it normally and I forgot for a moment that I was at a rally. For a moment I felt that we are home and that we are joking with each other like we normally do,” said Geagea.
“Yesterday we marked the anniversary of Rafik Hariri's martyrdom, which has changed Lebanon's modern history, and we must not stop at petty issues. Rafik Hariri was assassinated for the sake of building a good country and this is what we must strive for,” the LF leader added.
“Ex-PM Hariri also voiced decisive remarks yesterday, when he stressed that he will not boycott the (electoral) session,” Geagea went on to say, underlining that the March 8 camp “has no excuse not to attend the session and vote for a president.”
Hariri for his part emphasized during the press conference that the principles of March 14 bring him together with Geagea.
"Dr. Geagea and I are both concerned about Lebanon and what's important is to head to parliament and elect a president,” he added, urging all MPs and candidates to attend the upcoming electoral session.
The talks come a day after Hariri arrived in Lebanon to attend a rally marking the 11th anniversary of the assassination of his father, former premier Rafik Hariri.
Remarks voiced by Hariri during the rally have stirred a wave of angry comments by LF officials and supporters, which prompted al-Mustaqbal to issue a clarifying statement.
In his BIEL speech, Hariri said that his recent nomination of Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh for the presidency has pushed the LF to reach “a historic reconciliation” with the Free Patriotic Movement, its long-time Christian rival.
“We were the first to call for and welcome this reconciliation and if it only happened long ago, it would've spared Christians and Lebanon a lot of problems,” he added, addressing Geagea.
Mustaqbal denied Monday that Hariri meant to hold Geagea responsible for the delay in the Christian reconciliation.
“Geagea will remain the friend of a long patriotic path embodied in the Independence Revolution of March 14,” it said.
Despite the differences with Hariri over the presidential deadlock, Geagea and his wife MP Sethrida attended the rally on Sunday.
Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014 when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of successor and Hariri launched late in 2015 a controversial proposal to nominate Franjieh for the presidency.
Geagea, Hariri's ally in the March 14 camp, was a presidential candidate at the time and some observers have said that the LF leader has recently nominated FPM founder MP Michel Aoun for the presidency as a “reaction” to Hariri's proposal, a claim Geagea has denied.