Minister Gebran Bassil speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Monday, June 4, 2018. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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In proceeding with action against the United Nations refugee agency, caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has widened a dispute with the premier-designate that is likely to drag out into Cabinet negotiations, sources close to Saad Hariri have said.The Foreign Ministry officially informed the UNHCR Monday of Bassil's decision to halt the renewal of residency permits for its staff in Lebanon, accusing the agency of scaring Syrian refugees from going home. Khoury said the ministry does not wish to make trouble or strain its relationship with the U.N. agency, but expects it to cooperate with the ministry and work in parallel with the Lebanese government's policy and will to ensure the return of refugees to their country.A meeting for U.N. representatives as well as U.S. and EU ambassadors was held Monday to support the UNHCR and its work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon.Last week, the Foreign Ministry gave the UNHCR a two-week deadline to develop a strategy to facilitate the return of refugees to areas in Syria that the ministry deemed safe.
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