BEIRUT: U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly renewed Tuesday her government’s call for the release of the two bishops recently kidnapped by gunmen in Syria, following a meeting with Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East John X.
“Connelly condemned in the strongest terms the kidnapping of the patriarch’s brother, Archbishop Metropolitan Paul [Yazigi] of Aleppo, and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop ... Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo, and repeats the United States’ call for their immediate release,” a U.S. Embassy statement said.
Yazigi, Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox archbishop, and Ibrahim were kidnapped on April 22 by armed men as they were en route to the northern city from the Turkish border.
The bishops’ precise location and the identity of the kidnappers remain unknown.
Connelly also conveyed the U.S.’ continued support of the Syrian people and underscored the importance of the Geneva communiqué as a basis to realize a peaceful transition through dialogue.
“She reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to a democratic and pluralistic Syria that represents and protects the rights of all its people,” the statement said.
Connelly also stressed the United States’ support for the principle of human and religious rights, including the rights of minorities, and emphasized “the important and enduring role Christians continue and must play in the region in concert with other religious groups.”