Salam to Appeal for International Support


Salam to Appeal for International Support, to Pressure Erdogan over Captives

Prime Minister Tammam Salam traveled on Monday to New York where he will urge the international community to provide more support to Lebanon before it “drowns” under the burden of the Syrian refugees and the repercussions of the war in the neighboring country.

“I will ask in New York for support for Lebanon before it drowns. I will also stress the importance of helping the state in carrying the burden of the Syrian refugees,” Salam told al-Mustaqbal newspaper in an interview published on Monday.

The PM, who is representing Lebanon at the U.N. General Assembly session over the failure of the parliament to elect a new president, warned the rival parties that Lebanon would face a bigger problem if they don’t unite.

The politicians “should be aware of the dangers that we are facing and unite in confronting them rather than settling political scores,” said Salam.

“No one will be able to make the situation better if things went out of control because the objective of terrorism … is to disintegrate the state and sow strife,” he warned.

Salam urged the rival parties to “make sacrifices and overcome their narrow interests.”

He revealed that he will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ask for a bigger Turkish role in securing the release of Lebanese soldiers and policemen taken captives by jihadists last month.

The militants from the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August engaging in heavy battles with the Lebanese army.

They took with them the hostages and killed three of them, warning that more captives will die if the Lebanese authorities did not meet their demands.

“The negotiations are ongoing” to secure the release of the captives, Salam told reporters at the Grand Serail before traveling to New York on Monday.

He “expressed understanding” for the anger expressed by their families, who blocked two main highways and accused the authorities of failing to bring their loved ones back home.

Salam is expected to meet in New York with French President Francois Hollande, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other Arab and Western officials.

He will also participate in the meeting for the International Support Group for Lebanon that will be attended by the representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and officials from more than 40 states.