Berri, Hariri Restore Contacts after Abduction of Lebanese Pilgrims in Syriaإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The abduction of the Shiite pilgrims in Aleppo had a positive effect on the ties between Speaker Nabih Berri and ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who strongly condemned the incident.
Hariri contacted Berri on Tuesday, voicing his support to the families of the abducted men and stressing the necessity of exerting all efforts to release them.
Berri told An Nahar newspaper that “Hariri’s call is a positive initiative.”
“When there’s a crisis threatening the Lebanese, all officials and leaders should assume their responsibilities,” he pointed out.
The ties between Berri and Hariri deteriorated after the March 8 forces toppled Hariri’s cabinet in 2011.
According to the daily, Berri told Hariri that “he was going to contact him after he heard his condemnation.”
He urged him to exert all efforts to release the abductees soon.
Hariri, who heads the anti-Syrian regime opposition in Lebanon, denounced the kidnapping on Tuesday and called for the men's immediate release.
The abductions of the pilgrims -- news reports put their number at between 11 and 13 -- were feared to further fuel sectarian tensions in Lebanon over the revolt in neighboring Syria.
They were kidnapped as they headed home to Lebanon from a pilgrimage in Iran and the news prompted their families and thousands of supporters to pour out into the streets of Beirut's mainly Shiite southern suburbs to demand their release.
The women were allowed to go free and returned to Beirut by plane early Wednesday.
Protesters blocked several roads, including the old airport road, with burning tires and garbage bins. The roads were reopened later in the evening after Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah appealed for calm and said his party was doing its utmost to ensure the safe release of the men.
The National News Agency said the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is seeking the overthrow of President Bashar Assad's regime, had abducted 13 pilgrims in northern Aleppo province; however the FSA accused the regime of the abduction.
Syrian media said an "armed terrorist gang" had kidnapped 11 Lebanese and their Syrian driver.