BEIRUT: Lebanon regards as important the security of foreign embassies, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Wednesday before chairing a security meeting looking into the safety of diplomatic missions in the country.
“The meeting will address the security of embassies and will set plans to protect the headquarters of endangered diplomatic missions,” said Charbel.
“Any attack against any embassy is rejected – the security of embassies is the same as Lebanon’s security,” he added.
Last week, the U.S. urged its non-emergency staff and their family members to leave Lebanon, citing security concerns.
That announcement came after U.S. President Barack Obama said he would seek congressional approval for a military strike against the regime in Lebanon’s neighbor Syria. But Obama Tuesday urged Congress to put off the vote, vowing to explore a diplomatic plan from Russia to take away Syria's chemical arms.
Charbel has denied reports of threats against some embassies in Lebanon.
The minister also said Lebanese authorities were following up on the lingering case of the nine Lebanese being held by Syrian rebels in the Aleppo district of Azaz.
“General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and I are following up the case of the nine Azaz hostages. We are working night and day,” he said.
Charbel indicated that contacts with Turkey to follow up on the details of the case was ongoing.
“We feel with the suffering of the relatives,” he said.
The minister also called for the release of the two Turkish pilots who were abducted by gunmen on Aug. 9 near Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport.
“The abductors of the Turkish pilots should release them because like the Azaz hostages, they did not do anything wrong,” he Charbel.
The kidnapping of Turkish Airlines Pilot Murat Akpinar and his co-pilot Murat Agca was linked to the case of Azaz hostages.
A group calling itself Zuwwar al-Imam Ali al-Reda claimed responsibility for the abduction, demanding in exchange the release of nine Lebanese pilgrims who were kidnapped in May 2012.
Thirteen people, most of whom are relatives of the Lebanese being held in Syria, have been charged over the case of the two Turks. Three of the suspects are being held by Lebanese authorities.
A delegation made up of relatives of the Lebanese hostages met Wednesday with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to discuss the case of their loved ones in Syria as well as the arrest of their kin over the Turkish hostages.
The meeting came a day after the relatives protested outside Berri’s Ain al-Tineh residence, urging him to help resolve both cases.
The meeting Wednesday was attended by Sheikh Abbas Zogheib, tasked by the Higher Shiite Council to follow up on the case of the Lebanese in Azaz.