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Melkite patriarch urges Syria to talks with protesters, raps Western interference

Catholic World News - August 30, 2011

Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham has issued a call for Syria’s government to negotiate with opposition leaders.

In a message to Muslims as they end Ramadan, the Melkite patriarch delivered what appeared clearly to be a message for the Assad regime. “It is never too late” for talks to end the conflict in Syria, he said. He sharply criticized Arab governments for ignoring “the pain and aspirations of their peoples,” and said that the protests of the “Arab Spring” movement should be heard and addressed.

Arab governments should join together to provide hope to younger generations, the patriarch said. In another clear message, conveying his criticism of Western political involvement, he said that a combined effort by Arabic leaders to satisfy protests would surely be better than “allowing foreign forces, whatever their intentions, to interfere and meddle in our affairs, dictate to us their ideas, threaten our governments, call for our presidents to resign and leave their countries, and force those who had been the symbols of our Arab countries to be removed and put on humiliating trials.”

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