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Turkey reaches out to Hezbollah for talks on kidnapped pilots

Aug. 16, 2013 at 12:32 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Turkish officials say they have reached out to Hezbollah in Lebanon in efforts to secure the release of two pilots kidnapped in Beirut.

The pilots, Murat Akpinar and Murat Agca of Turkish Airlines, were kidnapped from a bus making its way to the Beirut airport on Aug. 9, Today's Zaman reported. A group called Zuwwar Imam Ali al-Reda claimed responsibility for the abduction and demanded that Turkey work with the Syrian opposition to secure the release of nine Lebanese Shiites who were kidnapped by Syrian opposition fighters in 2012.

A delegation from Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) met with Lebanese intelligence authorities to talk about the release of the pilots.

Turkish ambassador to Lebanon, Inan Ozyildiz, also met with Mohammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc on Wednesday.

"Hezbollah condemns the kidnapping of the two Turkish pilots and all abductions of civilians," Raad said after the meeting. "The party is keen on reaching a good ending that solves the problem of the pilots and of the Lebanese pilgrims, and we are working with the state's institutions towards achieving this purpose."

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