BEIRUT: If negotiations to secure the release of the captive security personnel are lax, and if Arsal was allowed to revert back to a terrorist haven, then it could become the place to launch further security operations, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Monday.
The foreign minister reiterated the government’s “no-compromise” policy over negotiations with militants who are holding twenty nine captives from Lebanon’s Army and Internal Security Forces.
“Since day one we have opposed the notion of negotiating with terrorists,” said Bassil, stressing that the situation could only be resolved through decisive security operations.
The foreign minister said that continued stability in Arsal would require “military and political responsibilities.”
The government did not want to differentiate between Arsal residents and the captive security personnel Bassil said, but one group was favored, hinting that the protection of Arsal residents came at the cost of the abducted security personnel.
Bassil called on the Arab League to discuss the issue of terrorism during meetings set for Sep. 6 and 7, speaking about the need to set the foundations to actually confront terrorism.
According to the foreign minister, the Arsal conflict has proved there is a need for a clear and decisive policy regarding the delivery of aid to the Syrian refugees by international organizations.
“What happened in Arsal revealed the extent of danger [that comes from] refugees,” he said, while arguing that the delivery of Syrian aid opposed Lebanese interests since it was going to refugees directly, and not through the government.
Bassil said that last Thursday, the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, replied to Lebanese requests issued to the ICC over Israeli attacks on Gaza and the assault on Christians in Mosul.
According to the foreign minister, Bensouda said that she was working on both dossiers after receiving a memo from Lebanon, and urged the government to equip her with more information that may help with investigations over the situation in Mosul.
For his part, Bassil pressed for a swift response to the prosecutor’s request, saying that the foreign ministry had already issued hand written memos to security institutions in that regard.
Concerning current agreements with the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in Lebanon, Bassil said that efforts are underway to "export Lebanese agricultural products, such as apples, honey, wine and olive oil.”
Bassil said that two events related to Lebanese-Russian relations are expected take place on Sep. 12 and Oct. 22.