Salam to Qatar on Sunday, Captive Soldiers and Syrian Refugees Crowning Talks


Prime Minister Tammam Salam is expected to head a delegation to the state of Qatar in the first high-level move to liberate the soldiers and police officers held captive by the Islamic State armed group since August.

The delegation will head to Qatar on Sunday where Salam is slated to meet with emir of Qatar , Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and senior Qatari officials to up pressure on the kidnappers and settle the case as soon as possible, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday.

The ministerial delegation that the PM will head includes members of the committee that was tasked to address the said file in addition to the issue of massive number of Syrian refugees that have burdened Lebanon.

The delegation includes Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashouq, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi, Minister of Social Affairs Rashid Derbas, Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Zoaiter, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour and Justice Minster Ashraf Rifi.

General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, the Secretary-General of the Higher Relief Council Maj. Gen. Mohammad Kheir and an administrative and diplomatic delegation will accompany Salam in his one-day visit where extensive meetings will be held.

Unnamed sources told al-Joumhouria, that Ibrahim could possibly visit Turkey, a country closely related to the file of kidnapped soldiers, before he accompanies Salam to Qatar on Sunday.

He is also expected to stay in Qatar a few more days for meetings with security officials to follow up on the thorny file that he has handled since the first moments of the kidnapping.

The soldiers and policemen were abducted by Islamist militants from the northeastern border town of Arsal in light of clashes in the area between the army and the gunmen from Syria.

A few of them have since been released, while two others were beheaded, prompting a backlash against Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The ministerial panel tasked with following up on the case of the captives is mulling all the available options in coordination with a Qatari delegation, which is negotiating the release of the hostages with the Islamist kidnappers.

According to unnamed sources, Salam could possibly travel to the UAE after his visit to Qatar but the time has not been set yet.


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