Estonian FM Quoting Suleiman: Kidnapped Estonians are Alive
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said on Tuesday that Lebanese authorities had information indicating seven Estonian cyclists kidnapped three months ago in the Bekaa Valley were still alive.
"According to the information I got from Lebanon's president, the kidnapped Estonians are alive and work to free them continues," Paet told Estonia's Kuku radio from Beirut on Tuesday.
"There are some preliminary (findings) that we have reached, but not to the extent that we can share with the media," he told reporters in Beirut, where he met President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister Najib Miqati and other officials.
Earlier on Tuesday, Paet expressed his satisfaction over the cooperation between Lebanon and his country in the probe into the abduction of the seven tourists.
“I hope the cooperation would continue after the formation of the new cabinet,” Paet said following talks with PM Miqati.
He stressed that the main goal is to win the release of the seven tourists.
The Estonian FM arrived in Lebanon at dawn to meet with its new government, in an attempt to find the whereabouts of the kidnapped Estonians.
The seven Estonian men, all in their 30s, were kidnapped on March 23 after entering Lebanon on a bicycle tour from neighboring Syria.
The case remains shrouded in mystery.
Several people have been arrested in Lebanon in connection with the case but there is no clear evidence as to who ordered the kidnapping or where the men are.
They appealed for help in two videos posted on the Internet on April and May. The first was uploaded in the Syrian capital Damascus, investigators said, leading to speculation that the men had been moved across the border.
Last week, Estonia's Prime Minister Andrus Ansip told reporters that his country remained completely in the dark, with no political or financial demands having been made so far.
Estonia's efforts to free the men have been hampered by the fact that the Baltic nation of 1.3 million has a minuscule diplomatic presence in the Middle East.
It has had to turn to fellow European Union and NATO allies for logistical support, notably France.