Bashar Assad Meets new Greek Orthodox Leader

Naharnet Newsdesk

President Bashar Assad met on Monday with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Yuhanna X Yazigi, state media reported, a day after the newly-enthroned leader appealed for dialogue and peace in the war-torn Syria.

“President Bashar Assad welcomed Patriarch Yuhanna X Yazigi,” said state news agency SANA.

“Assad congratulated the patriarch for the key role played by the Orthodox Church in maintaining national unity, in the face of the attacks suffered by Syria,” the agency added.

Assad also congratulated the religious leader on his enthronement, which took place on Sunday in Damascus despite violence in the capital. The embattled president thanked the patriarch for the church’s “message of love…and mercy”, SANA said.

State television broadcast images of Assad and the patriarch talking and smiling.

On Sunday, the patriarch voiced hope that “Syria, the government and the people, will find the gate of salvation through dialogue and a peaceful political solution to avert violence and re-establish the stability and peace Syria has always known.”

A blast on Monday rocked the Qasaa district of Damascus where the patriarch was enthroned, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.