The Iman Foundation

Press Release: British MPs hold high level meetings in Lebanon on eve of Middle East peace talks

Thursday, 2 September 2010

• Inter-faith dialogue hailed as “key to peace”

• Lebanon must “remain free from external interference”

As Israel and the Palestinian Territories prepare for a fresh round of peace talks two senior British MPs have visited Lebanon at the invitation of Iman, an organization that promotes inter-faith dialogue and peace.

Andrew Rosindell MP, who is a member of the UK's Foreign Affairs Committee and Daniel Kawczynski MP, who is the parliamentary chairman of the Conservative Arab Network were on a two day visit to Lebanon, where they met senior political and religious officials.

The delegation met with:

• Minister of Labour Boutrus Harb MP

• Minister of Tourism Fadi Abboud MP

• Kataeb MP, Nadim Gemayel

• Leader of National Liberal Party Dori Chamoun MP

• Former Minister Nayla Moawad, widow of former President René Moawad

• Founder and chairman of the Lebanese Peace Party, Mr Roger Edde in Beirut

• Al-Mustaqbal movement official, former MP Mustafa Alloush

Discussions focussed very strongly on the need for Lebanon to create a stable, unified country that is free from external influence.

In addition, the British MPs met with the British Ambassador to Lebanon, Her Excellency Frances Guy, who briefed them about the political situation in Lebanon, before meeting the Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon, His Excellency Ali Awad Asiri, who emphasised the deep friendship and ties with the UK and the role being played by His Majesty King Abdullah in bringing peace to the Middle East.

Sheikh Mohammad Al Hajj Hassan held a banquet in honour of the MPs at his residence in Beirut, and he thanked them for visiting his country so that they could see its rich diversity of cultures and religions. Sheikh Hassan emphasised the need for internal unity in Lebanon and importance of rejecting outside interference. He also praised the Chairman of Iman, Ribal Al-Assad, for promoting international dialogue, understanding, pluralism and human rights.

Ribal said:

“Inter-faith dialogue, of the kind promoted by Iman, must play a major role in any peace process.

“Bringing political and religious leaders together is an essential step in ensuring a lasting peace and stability.

“I was delighted to take Mr Rosindell and Mr Kawczynski to Lebanon and to involve them in the work that Iman does in building cross-culture relationships and fostering peace.

“Only through dialogue between civilisations can we bring about reconciliation, mutual acceptance and peace in the world today. Of course we will need a lot of courage, good will and discipline on all sides to achieve success.”

In a separate Iman delegation, Belgium MP Denis Ducarme, Vice Chairman of the Belgium Defense Committee, held high level meetings during a one day visit to the country. He met with former Lebanese President Amine Gemayel and leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt.


Notes for Editors:

IMAN is a non-partisan and not for profit organisation, which aims to promote dialogue to strengthen international understanding and co-existence through the exchange of ideas, people, culture and religion.


To promote inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue

To promote intra-religious dialogue

To challenge extremism and promote mainstream voices

About Iman’s Chairman:

Ribal Al-Assad is the Founder and Chairman of IMAN. He is extensively involved in promoting dialogue, understanding and relations between the Arab world and the West. Ribal, 35, was born in Syria and has lived in the West since being exiled from his country as a child. He brings fresh ideas and perspectives to promoting dialogue between civilisations and strengthening international understanding. Ribal is a regular speaker on inter-religious and inter-cultural platforms and regularly interacts with religious and cultural leaders, politicians, civil servants, academics, journalists, think tanks, cultural and religious groups all around the world.

Ribal has a track record of promoting dialogue and relations between Muslims, Christians and Jews around the globe. Over the last few years he has successfully been involved in helping to tackle inter-religious and intra-religious conflict and violence in Lebanon. One of his notable achievements was to help facilitate a rapprochement between the Alawite and the Sunni Muslims in North Lebanon.

Ribal is also Founder and Director of the Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria and the Chairman of the Arab News Network (ANN) satellite television channel, which broadcasts throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa and promotes democracy, freedom and peace in the Middle East.

More news articles »