BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Sleiman says discussed seized explosives with Syrian officials in Iran

President Michel Sleiman speaks during a ceremony in Jbeil, north of Beirut. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman said Saturday that he and senior Syrian officials discussed in Iran the recently seized explosives by Lebanese authorities linked to the case of former Minister Michel Samaha, who, along with two other Syrian figures have been charged with plotting terror attacks in Lebanon.

He also expressed hope that there was no relation between official Syrian sides and the seized explosives.

“There was no secret meeting in Iran ... but there were no reporters in the hall at the time. The initiative was by both Syrian Prime Minister [Wael Nader al-Halqi] and Foreign Affairs Minister Walid Muallem ... we discussed this matter and what I told them was identical to what I said on the day that the explosives were seized,” Sleiman said, according to a statement from his office.

In late August Sleiman took part in the 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran.

Former Information Minister Michel Samaha was arrested last month and then later charged by the Military Tribunal with plotting terror attacks in Lebanon. Samaha, Syrian National Security Bureau head Ali Mamlouk and a Syrian army officer identified as Brig. Gen. Adnan were also accused of planning to incite sectarian clashes through terrorist attacks with explosives that Samaha transported to Lebanon and stored after taking possession of them from Mamlouk and Adnan.

In the days following the discovery of the explosives, Sleiman described reports of the possible terrorist plots in the country as frightening, but praised security agencies’ work in foiling such plans.

In his speech in his home town of Amchite, Jbeil, north Lebanon, Saturday, Sleiman said he would not retract his praise of the Internal Security Forces for their efforts in the case of seizing of the explosives.

“I wish to praise the Internal Security Forces. Yes, I congratulate them and I hail Interior Minister Marwan Charbel who is the head of the force, particularly on their seizure of these explosives which, had they exploded, could have led to [the loss of] hundreds of lives and casualties in Lebanon,” he said.

“I will never retract this praise,” he added.

He also expressed hope that there was no relation between any “official Syrian side and the explosives.”

“We therefore thank God that these bombs were seized and I stress that we will not resort to accusations and this case is in the hands of the judiciary, which I ask to fulfill its duties,” he said.

 

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