Hariri to visit Pope Francis in the Vatican this month

Lebanon’s prime minister-designate is set to visit Rome on April 22

epa09115098 Pope Francis speaks prior to deliver his Urbi et Orbi Blessing, during the Easter Sunday Mass St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, 04 April 2021. Easter Sunday is the one of the highest religious holidays observed by Christians all over the world, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  EPA/FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / POOL
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The Lebanese prime minister-designate will meet the Pope at the Vatican this month, his office said on Tuesday.

"The Ambassador of the Holy See in Lebanon, Monsignor Joseph Spiteri, informed Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri that His Holiness Pope Francis will receive him at the Vatican on April 22," Mr Hariri's office tweeted.

Pope Francis had said he wanted his next official trip to be to Lebanon after he became the first pontiff to visit Iraq in March.

Mr Hariri has been touring regional capitals to rally support but has yet to form a government since he was nominated to the premiership in October.

Disputes with President Michel Aoun over Cabinet posts and his bid to secure what Mr Hariri called a "blocking third" of ministerial portfolios, which amounts to a veto, have stopped him forming a government.

Lebanon has been struck by a severe economic crisis since late 2019 and is still reeling from the effects of a deadly blast at Beirut's port last August that destroyed half of the city and killed more than 200 people.

Mr Hariri sent a message two weeks ago asking to meet Pope Francis.

Mr Hariri's visit will include a meeting with the Secretary of State at the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.