BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s talks in Turkey on the issue of nine Lebanese hostages held in Syria were successful, an Interior Ministry source said Thursday, raising hopes for the captives’ release.
The source told The Daily Star that a second visit by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel to Turkey in the next few weeks might lead to the hostages’ release.
“The Lebanese delegation was very satisfied with the Turkish prime minister’s stance on this issue and the honest promises they heard from him, which indicate that Turkey is doing its best with the Syrian kidnappers to secure the release of the Lebanese hostages,” the source said. Charbel was part of the delegation that accompanied Mikati on his one-day visit to Turkey Wednesday.
The Interior Ministry source’s remarks came a day after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the issue of the Lebanese hostages was not his country’s “main problem” given the ongoing regional unrest.
After meeting Erdogan, Mikati urged Turkey to increase its pressure on the hostages’ captors, saying the Lebanese people believed Turkey was capable of helping to obtain their release. Nine of the 11 Lebanese pilgrims are still being held by Syrian rebels despite months of talks.