Lebanese President Vows to Help Secure Bishops’ Releas


BEIRUT — President Michel Sleiman vowed Monday to help secure the release of two bishops kidnapped in April by armed men near the Turkish border.

A statement from his office said Sleiman’s remarks came during a meeting with senior security and military officers at the presidential palace in Baabda.

The meeting addressed ways to improve the performance of intelligence work and activate coordination mechanisms among the various security agencies.

The statement said Sleiman congratulated the head of the General Security Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim for his efforts that led to the release Saturday of nine Lebanese pilgrims after 17 months in captivity.

The men were heading back to Lebanon from a pilgrimage in Iran in May 2012 when they were snatched by Syrian rebels and held in the Aleppo region town of Azaz.

Sleiman also hailed caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel for his efforts in securing the release of the Lebanese hostages.

Two Turkish Airlines pilots were also released Saturday as part of the swap deal.

Sleiman, according to the statement, urged during Monday’s security meeting that every effort be exerted to help secure the release of Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim, who were abducted in April by armed men near the Turkish border.

He also vowed to undertake “serious” efforts to end the case of dozens of Lebanese who went missing during the 1975-90 Civil War, including those held in Syrian jails.

Daily Star, Lebanon