Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea and Marada leader Sleiman Frangieh on Wednesday held a reconciliation meeting at the Maronite Patriarchate see in Bkirki, as the two long-standing Christian arch-rivals have lately engaged in talks to bury the blood-soaked, bitter past.
Recent signs of reconciliation between the two parties have finally culminated in a meeting hosted by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi who stressed that Lebanon's national unity cannot be fully achieved unless the Maronite leaders are in harmony.
"Reconciliation is the gateway to the comprehensive national unity that we all aspire for," Al-Rahi stated.
"Our hearts are filled with joy because God is present in this great historic meeting," he said.
The Patriarch pointed out that inter-Christian reconciliation had initially begun in May 2011 in the presence of both President Michel Aoun and Former President Amine Gemayel.
A joint statement, issued following a closed-door meeting between the Patriarch and the two leaders, said that the reconciliation encloses a Lebanese, humanitarian and Christian significance, adding that dialogue is never impossible to achieve regardless of political divergences.
"The Marada Movement and the Lebanese Forces express their willingness to turn the page of the painful past and head for new horizons," the statement stressed.
"Inter-Christian rapprochement and the relinquishment of the mentality of exclusion are the main factors for a strong and diverse Lebanon," it added.
The joint statement pointed out that the reconciliation does not alter the viewpoints and political constants of each political party, assuring that no obligations or pledges have been made in exchange for the long-awaited meeting.
"It is a decision that was made by both parties to overcome a sorrowful phase and lay the foundations for dialogue."
"This event serves as an occasion to salute the martyrs and those who suffered from the bloody conflicts that took place between the two parties. The sacrifices made by those people have yielded today's historic meeting, away from transient political calculations."
The reconciling parties pledged to maintain mutual respect, vowing to boost coordination so as to prevent anything that might harm this rapprochement.
"The era of discord between the Lebanese Forces and the Marada has gone for good," the statement assured.
The animosity between the two men was initially triggered by the events that took place in June 1978 when Frangieh's parents and younger sister were killed at their summer residence in their hometown Ehden in north Lebanon. Sleiman, who was 14 at the time, escaped the attack because he was in Beirut. He had for long blamed Geagea for leading the assault, while the latter denied any responsibility and claimed he was injured before reaching Frangieh's residence.