Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi hoped on Tuesday that peace would be achieved in Iraq, voicing Lebanon’s solidarity with the Iraqi people.
He said after holding talks in Iraq with its Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi and Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan: "We look forward to collaborating with our Muslim brothers throughout the Islamic world to reject violence, intolerance, and mistrust."
"This requires a commitment on the spiritual level and we hope politicians would work on achieving this through honest political work," he said.
"Our visit to Iraq was an occasion to demonstrate the solidarity between the church in Lebanon and that in Iraq," he continued.
"The church is at the service of the people and it seeks to build a society where all sides accept each other," stressed al-Rahi.
"We are of course obligated to establish cooperation in Lebanon and the Arab world to this end," the patriarch remarked. For his part, Hashimi praised the first visit by a Maronite patriarch to Iraq, adding: "Iraqi society needs all of its sons, Muslims and Christians, to rise up once again."
"Terrorism does not differentiate between Muslims and Christians, which therefore places us before a joint responsibility towards the country," he noted.
"The church plays a major role in encouraging the people to remain in their homeland and avoid immigration," he said. On Monday, al-Rahi had criticized those who are seeking to "impoverish" Christians in the East. "Those who were martyred were a sacrifice for our beloved Iraq to implement peace, justice, and stability," he said during a mass on the first anniversary of the attack on Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad. The patriarch arrived in Iraq on Monday on a two-day pastoral visit that will include talks with Iraqi officials. Militants had stormed the Syriac Catholic church, killing 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security force personnel in an attack claimed by al-Qaida’s local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq. Al-Rahi said earlier this week that he will discuss with Iraqi officials the fate of Christians there. 
The Council of Maronite Bishops postponed its monthly meeting from Wednesday to Thursday over al-Rahi’s visit to Iraq.