Turkey threatens Lebanon over pilots

Turkey threatens Lebanon over pilots
Wed Aug 14, 2013 08:19:21

Turkey says the abduction of two of its nationals in Lebanon last week could hamper ties between Ankara and Beirut, urging Lebanese authorities to work on winning the release of the two captives.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Tuesday voiced his “deep concern over the abduction and the negative repercussions it may have on bilateral relations between the two countries,” to caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, according to Lebanon's National News Agency.

Davutoglu also expressed hope that Lebanese authorities would work for the release of the Turkish Airlines pilot Murat Akpinar and his co-pilot Murat Agca, who were snatched at gunpoint last week near the Rafik Hariri International Airport.

Hours after the kidnapping, a Lebanese militant group claimed responsibility for the abduction, demanding in exchange the release of nine Lebanese hostages held by Syrian militants for over a year.

Davutoglu said Turkey had nothing to do with the kidnapping of Lebanese hostages, adding that it was carried out by Syrians on Syrian territory.

For his part, Mansour said Lebanon opposes kidnappings on its territories, adding that the government was doing its best to release the Turkish pilots. He expressed Lebanon’s eagerness to maintain solid ties with Turkey.

Mansour, however, urged Turkey to make efforts to resolve the case of the Lebanese hostages. Turkey is a major backer of the Syrian militants.

Also Tuesday, Iran said Turkey had sought its help in securing the release of the pilots.

“In a phone conversation, Davutoglu asked his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi for Iran’s assistance in the search for the Turkish pilots,” Abbas Araqchi, spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said during a news conference in Tehran.

Araqchi also said that his country would not hesitate to help in locating the hostages in Lebanon if the resources to do so were available.

BA/BA

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