BEIRUT: Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu voiced Tuesday his “deep concern" over ties with Lebanon as a result of the recent abduction of two Turkish pilots in Beirut.
According to the National News Agency, Davutoglu phoned caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour and "voiced his deep concern over the abduction and what may result in terms of negative repercussions to bilateral relations between the two countries."
The Turkish minister also expressed hope Lebanese authorities would secure the release of the pilots who were snatched Friday while they were on their way to a Beirut hotel from Rafik Hariri International Airport.
A group calling itself Zuwwar al-Imam Ali al-Reda claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, demanding in exchange the release of nine Lebanese who were abducted by Syrian rebels last year.
Lebanese security agencies are searching for Ali Jamil Saleh, who is believed to be the mastermind behind the abduction, a judicial source said Monday.
Saleh is the son of one of nine Lebanese who have been held hostage by rebels in Syria since May 2012. The rebels snatched 11 Lebanese in May 2012 in Azaz, Aleppo, releasing two later in the year.
Davutoglu said that Ankara played no role in the kidnapping of the Lebanese "which was carried out by Syrian groups on Syrian territory."
Relatives of the Lebanese hostages claim Turkey, which supports the Syrian opposition, has the ability to persuade the rebels into releasing their loved ones.
For his part, Mansour affirmed Lebanon's rejection to any kidnapping on its soil, expressing his country's keenness on maintaining solid ties with Turkey.
He also hoped that Turkey would exert efforts to find a solution to the case of the Lebanese hostages in Syria.