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Hariri to “Al-Arabiya”: King Abdullah believed in moderation and that Islam is a religion of peace

BEIRUT | - January 24, 2015, 10h01
This is an English translation of the interview given by Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to “Al-Arabiya” TV Channel from his residence in Riyadh, about the passing of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, and the accession of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to the throne.
Al Arabiya: Premier Hariri, what do you say on this day?
It is a great loss for the Arab nation. We mourn king Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz who was a father and a leader to the Arab nation. Today, Lebanon feels this loss because King Abdullah supported our country during all the difficult periods that it experienced. May God have mercy on him. He always watched over the Arab and Islamic nation, and today the Lebanese feel that they lost a father who always supported them in words and deeds. The late King also supported the Palestinian cause and all Arab causes.

How do you see the future of this strong relation, which was visible during the reign of King Abdullah, in the coming reign of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz?
There is no doubt that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman will continue the path. Since the reign of King Abdul Aziz, the policy of the Kingdom towards the Arab nations was clear and far from interfering in internal affairs and keen on bringing all parties together and underlining Arab unity. There is no doubt that King Salman will seek to achieve this unity. He always supported the citizens and followed up their issues when he was governor of Riyadh province. King Salman also supported the Lebanese during his numerous visits to Lebanon.

You met many times with the late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, and witnessed many of his stances. Do you remember some of his stances?

The last stance was when the town of Arsal was attacked last summer. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques used to follow the events in Lebanon. You know that he offered a lot to the Lebanese army, and he believed that he should support the fight against terrorism in Lebanon. He therefore gave Lebanon a one-billion dollars grant to fight this kind of terrorism and extremists.

He called me that day, late at night, and insisted on the announcement of this grant, because he saw the gravity of extremism and of this scourge that Muslims are facing, and he was always keen on moderation among Muslims and to fight this kind of terrorism by all means.

Muslims are facing today a difficult stage of religious extremism and violence, and the late King had established the “King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue” KAICIID. What do you think of the results of this initiative?
Hariri: This initiative stems from a firm belief in Saudi Arabia in dialogue between religions, and not in clash between them, but there are some who deviate from religion and its principles and claim to be religious and represent a religion. The Custodian of the Two holy Mosques remarked this ten years ago and understood the extent of this threat on the Islamic nation. This is why he called for initiatives to fight terrorism, and for a dialogue between religions, because he saw that some people want to create confrontation between religions. He believed that Islam is a religion of peace, and he launched his peace initiative from Beirut.

What can you say about King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz?
King Salman was a friend of my father and knew him well, and knows many leaders and journalists. He took many initiatives, and headed the Lebanese - Saudi council meetings, where he delivered an important speech about Lebanon and Rafic Hariri.

Do you aspire to stronger Saudi-Lebanese cooperation during the reign of King Salman?
There is no doubt that Lebanon looks up to Saudi Arabia as its big brother, and we look forward to developing this relationship in various ways. The Kingdom stood by Lebanon’s side in the toughest situations, and was always rapid in helping Lebanon, and we always strive to maintain this relationship and develop it.
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