His Beatitude Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, received Rafiq Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, currently on visit to Moscow. The Prime Minister has his birthday today, and the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church gave him two exquisite candlesticks decorated with cloisonne enamels. An icon of the Virgin came as Mr. Hariri's return gift. Though a war is on in the world, Muslims and Christians remain in friendly contact, pointed out the Premier, to which Alexis II added that the American tragedy of September 11 could not torpedo that contact. "Christians and Muslims must together oppose terror wherever it is. We agreed on that point," His beatitude said emphatically. He does not think the present-day anti-terror crusade implies a clash of civilisation, and is sure friendships between Christians and Muslims will survive. Rafiq Hariri invited the Patriarch to Lebanon, he said to newsmen.
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign