Lebanon wants UN to facilitate return of Syrian refugees

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil pauses during a press conference at a Syrian refugee camp, in Arsal, near the border with Syria, east Lebanon,

Syrian refugee children play at an informal refugee camp, which is seen set between the houses and buildings in Arsal, near the border with Syria, eas

A Syrian refugee woman stands next to her daughter as she watches the visit of the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil to their refugee camp, in A

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon's caretaker foreign minister is threatening to increase pressure on the U.N. refugee agency if it does not change its policies, which he says discourage Syrian refugees from returning to their country.

Gibran Bassil made his comments in Geneva following a meeting with Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, days after the Lebanese official ordered a freeze on the renewal of residency permits for UNHCR staff.

Bassil said he is ready to lift the measures "if I see tangible steps," adding that he is also ready to take further steps if things continue as they are.

Lebanon is home to more than a million Syrian refugees, or about a quarter of the country's population, putting a huge strain on the economy.